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At the end of 1993, my skateboard career had dried up
and I moved back to New Jersey with my wife Ann
and our one year old daughter Emily.
I had set out with great joy to California to live my dreams
and I returned home to New Jersey with great sadness.
Something had gone terribly wrong.

I spent that first winter home in hibernation
and when I emerged in the Spring of ’94,
I had a Super 8 movie camera and I began
pointing it at the different places that I
found myself haunting.
Mostly, I would just drive around
my old neighborhood with Ann and Emily.
Somehow I thought that retracing my footsteps
would give me some clue as to what came next.
I took my young family to these places
and documented it, as if to say:
This may be where it started
but it can’t be where it ends.

My own youth and my daughter’s youth
became intertwined.
Her life was just starting,
I could start again too.
I could see the world with new eyes too.
No one else wanted me to.
I was a father now, it was time to grow up.
And as I drove around
I could feel that dimness falling over me
and I didn’t know what to do.
Emily became the only light
and a guiding light in my life.

I spent countless hours in the car,
listening to Bruce Springsteen’s The River,
driving around Edison, South River,
East Brunswick, New Brunswick, Freehold,
Red Bank, Asbury Park and Seaside Heights.
From the opening track on Side One: The Ties That Bind
to the closing track on Side Four: Wreck On The Highway,
I was filled with hope, despair, determination and fear.
How could I take the good and leave the bad?
It seemed impossible but it was what I had to do.
There was no other route out of town.
There was no other way to make things right.

— Mike V

See Also:

Mike Vallely: Los Angeles (1994)

New Jersey Super 8 (1994)