Change, comfort zones, & feelings- the three things I had to accept, leave, and cope with since I've gotten to college. Change- it's inevitable. Comfort zones- they're meant to be left, and feelings- they're meant to be felt. Since I've gone to college, my world has been turned upside down. What's changed? What is there to miss about New Jersey?
1. Your hometown.
I never knew I'd miss knowing every single twist and turn off the roads of Dukes Parkway. I never knew I'd miss having the chance to pick from 20 different pizzerias. I didn't think I'd miss knowing every short cut, every back road, or how to cut time off of my travels by changing my routes.
2. New Jersey drivers.
So I thought we were bad drivers. I thought going 60 mph in a 45 was daring, but who knew out of state drivers could go so far below the speed limit? I know I sure as hell didn't. I miss never being late for work because of Massholes, Rhodys, and New Yorkers. I miss getting places within the ETA of my gps. I remember when I didn't have to plan for a drive, I could just go. I miss driving a little too fast and not feeling bad about it because every other Jersey driver doesn't see it as that fast.
3. Being 45 minutes from Philly, New York City, and just about everywhere else.
Anywhere you'd like to go in New Jersey can be gotten to fairly easily. New York City, hop on a New Jersey Transit to Penn Station. Need your fix of Christmas? There's always the Rockettes, the Holiday Lights Show is off the Garden State Parkway at the PNC Banks Arts Center, or even the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza. Looking for an authentic cheesesteak? Philly is not too far. Living in the tri-state area is awesome to attend to all of your needs.
4. The Garden State Parkway
Something I never knew I'd miss. Some of you are probably reading, and rereading this one. Yes, I miss the Garden State Parkway. Why wouldn't I miss a road that can bring me to every exit to every beach town in New Jersey? A way to get to an awesome outdoor concert venue, to the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets, Atlantic City, and some of the best little towns and shops.
5. Route 287
Who knew someone could ever miss an hour to three hours in rush hour traffic? How could someone want to endure that just to make it to the Menlo Park Mall? Route 287 is the way to get us to the Garden State Parkway, to New York City, to Interstate 295. We rely so heavily on 287. Of course, I miss the lumps and bumps and imperfections in the gravel my tires roll over on my way to my concerts, my beach days, and all of my trips back to college. I wouldn't trade my New Jersey routes for anything.
6. Going right to go left
What does the word jug handle mean to you? To people out of state, it's annoying. But let me tell you, I never knew I would miss them. I will never get used to seeing a left arrow at a light and watching a whole line of cars make a u-turn at the light. In Jersey, we have to drive about a half a mile past the store we want to go to, on the opposite side of the road, to take a jug handle to get us to the other side.
7. The fact that Jersey Girls do NOT pump gas.
Picture this, you're out of state, sitting at a gas pump, you popped your tank open, and you're sitting on your phone, scrolling through Instagram, waiting to be greeted from someone in a Parka to ask you, "Regular?" "Cash or Credit?" Well- that's not happening in whatever state you're in! You're not in Jersey anymore, sweetie. So now you've come to meet the harsh reality that you have to now get out of your warm car and do it yourself. It is a harsh, harsh, world living anywhere other than New Jersey in the winter time. Besides the cold, just being inexperienced, confused, and nervous that you're going to do it all wrong, is enough to resent being out of state. On top of just being downright lost about what you're doing, it's hard to forget that just about every scary movie about abduction has a gas station in it. They're notorious for being creepy, so again, why would anyone want to live where they have to pump their own gas?
8. Bagels, pizza, & Jersey fresh produce.
There's truly nothing like a Jersey bagel. Yes, bakeries everywhere can make bagels effectively. But there seriously is something about a bagel from a Jersey bakery. That goes along with pizza, too. Whether it's cooked in a wood-fired oven or a stone oven, pizza, just like Jersey's produce, has a distinct flavor, freshness, and taste that makes what we have in the Garden State, so much better than what you could find anywhere else.
9. The speed of just about everything.
We can get through a night out to dinner in less than an hour. We can drive to point A to point B and get there in one piece and quickly. We expect our food to be delivered fast, the fast food line to be quicker, and our gas attendants, waitresses, and just about everyone else to be moving at the speed of light. Us "New Jerseyians" don't have patience, we don't have time, and we don't wait for anything, or anybody. We live in a state that lives their lives minute-by-minute, on the go, and constantly in motion. I miss being around people who always have a pep in their step and some fire under their rears, with the intention to attack anything and everything that comes their way.
10. Being able to call Jersey home.
Being away from home is so weird. No one will ever understand what it's like to live somewhere where the traffic gets so bad it can take up an entire afternoon to get somewhere, or to live in a place that every exit off of the Garden State Parkway takes you to a unique little beach town. "Out of staters" don't understand that North, Central, and South Jersey might as well be three different states, because each part inhabits three distinct kinds of people. You have North Jersey where people are closer to New York than some of Jersey's most beautiful beaches. You have Central Jersey where we all get lost in between Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Warren Counties. Lastly, you have South Jersey, a place that is lucky enough to have all of our beaches: Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Avalon, Barnegat, Bay Head, Beach Haven, Belmar, Cape May, Lavallette, Long Branch, Manasquan, Monmouth, Ocean City, & Wildwood (and I am just naming a few).
We live in a state that gives us so much more than we could possibly imagine, from beaches, to little towns, to big towns where Friday night football games bring communities together, to big malls and boutiques, to reality tv shows being filmed here, to famous singers like Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Steve VanZandt growing up here, the Garden State is one that represents what it means to live in the midst of a little bit of crazy. We've fought hurricanes, and high taxes, we have an amazing educational system, and boardwalks for miles, we are the home of many concert venues, and we house Metlife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants. We are a state with it all, and a place that I am definitely proud to say I was born and raised in.