As a Story Terrace writer, Amanda interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below
Every time I do the dishes, I think of the Jersey Shore. I don’t know why, but it happens almost without fail, and when I try to backtrack my steps between the boardwalk tram car and dish soap I come up blank. I do know my childhood vacations to Wildwood, NJ are the backdrop of many precious childhood memories.
My mom got “any kind of sick” when traveling regardless of mode or distance, so the two-hour drive to spend a week “down the shore” was the extent of our travels and the highlight of my summer. Sitting crammed in the back middle seat of a minivan between my grandmom and her cousin Sophie, at our feet was a cooler full of chicken cutlets, homemade pasta, and ham steaks that would all fit magically in the motel’s tiny kitchenette fridge. There was a certain cleaner smell in the motel bathroom - not bad but distinct - and the tub always had non-slip grip decals of whales and dolphins that were better at catching sand runoff than preventing falls. During the day I would alternate between spending time at the beach, the pool, and the motel room sitting on a slightly too flat bed in slightly too cold air eating a Keebler cookie and watching a game show on TV. It was all magic.
My grandfather is a big feature in these memories. He was a people watcher and would love to “walk the boards” at night. He’d manage to walk ahead and disappear in the crowds only to pop up next to us with a trinket or treat in tow. We’d feed the motel owner’s cat together (leftover bits of that same ham steak) or throw stale bread to the seagulls in the parking lot next door until their aggression chased us away. Neither he nor my grandmother ever stepped foot on the beach, but there is something about just being near a large body of water that changed all our moods and psyche, in my opinion.
These days, maybe it’s the sound of rushing water that takes me back, or maybe there’s a hint of that distinct cleaner smell in my brand of dish soap, but doing the dishes always transports me to these small pockets of joy.