East Coast Tour 2013 – Day 2 – South Orange, NJ

Today I was not riding. I spent the day with my girlfriend Nicole and her two kids. I woke up early and started clacking away on my computer in bed. Nicole brought me a huge cup of coffee as I worked. She is such a caring and giving person and although she has been going through some tough times, she still finds a way to give to others. She is truly a generous person like few I have met. She also cooked me a big breakfast of eggs and chicken sausage that really hit the spot. Such amazing gestures for a traveler.

We took a trip with her two kids to the Turtle Back Zoo. When she first told me she lived nearby, my brain spun. My mother used to take us there as kids. One of the unique elements of the Zoo back in the early 70s was that you could actually ride the large Galapagos tortoises that were roaming freely. I remember seeing one chew on a woman’s shirt in a jealous rage as she stroked the chin of another tortoise. These deep memories came flooding back to me as we entered the zoo. Looking around I don’t seem to recall much of anything else except the train. I believe it was coal powered back in the day but now appears to be propane fueled.

We had a nice time at the zoo and after arriving home I worked on a song for Nicole’s class as she made macaroni salad. She teaches Pre-K at a private school and every week she writes a song for the spelling words the kids need to learn. We write the song together or sometimes I write the whole thing. She played me a video of the kids singing one of the songs I wrote. They screamed and laughed as they sang. Although hearing them is surreal, having a positive affect on children is amazing.

We went to dinner at Nicole’s friends house who also have two kids. She is lucky to have many nice people living near her. Over dinner we discussed various topics as the kids launched styrofoam rockets into the neighbor’s yard. I remember these times living in New Jersey. I actually lived only 9 miles from Nicole’s house from when I was born until I was 12-years-old. I recall backyard barbecues and the neighbors coming by and sharing our pool. The focus was on family and just being together.

I feel somewhat disconnected by the suburbs now. I have no kids of my own, and my one attempt to marry into a family failed. Since I have been single, I have become a creature of the city. Do I live in NYC for convenience or have I become a hunchbacked rat in an overpriced shoebox so I can emit the aroma of coolness? I always try to get in touch with the purpose of doing things. My best friend Tylor advises me to find meaning in everything. I am on the quest and it is a noble one.

Being with Nicole gives me a strong sense of family. Her kids love me and affection they all show towards me is limitless. But I am gun shy. I don’t want to mess this up. For one reason or another I always fall short in relationships. As a friend once told me, “I don’t play the lottery because then I never have to lose.” I was sort of following this advice but it is such a hopeless outlook. Nicole gives me hope. I have a feeling of growth on this tour which is nice since my last trip was all about licking wounds.

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3 Responses to East Coast Tour 2013 – Day 2 – South Orange, NJ

  1. Michael Paul Louis Ash,Jr. says:

    I’m with ya, Joe..I have not been playing the lottery either…still stinging from my last get together w/ my ex over 7 years ago! Something to be said for living life for yourself and I enjoy your shared journey; thank you…

  2. Patrick Ryan says:

    Brother Joe! I too live close to that zoo. Vanessa takes the boys often. Patrick and Colin are about to turn 9 and 11. It is so great to read your posts. I miss you and please tell Nicole I say hello.

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