Phragmites are an invasive species robbing valuable real estate from indigenous plant life due to the dense stands that’ll readily form and quickly grow. Efficiently conquering pristine lands like an imperialist in heat. To the uninitiated conquistador like me, they seemingly fit right in to the natural surroundings—adding almost picturesque sight lines that appear to fit right in to any naturally occurring coastal Mid-Atlantic landscape. It was only recently I learned they weren’t supposed to be here. But many of us aren’t supposed to be here, are we?
On just about any day that ends in ‘Y’ I certainly feel like a phragmites. A central Jersey transplant to Manahawkin, New Jersey, in the summer of ’93 I’ve always felt something of an outsider to the region. My insecure sense of being as coastal imposter only magnifies when I venture over to the nearby barrier island that is Long Beach Island. Here I’m twice removed; not just a Mainlander but a suburban sprawl transplant as well. You see no matter how hard I try, I’ll never climb the podium to gain acceptance as a True Local™. Sure I can wear flip-flops year round, pretend I’m clued into the the scene, all while living a few short miles from the beach, but I’ll never be one of The People. If only in my own mind.
But this is all our struggle, isn’t it? Just where to fit in?
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