Last week I flew to Los Angeles for a writing conference/pitchfest. When I told people I was from NJ they immediately recoiled, and got an apologetic look in their eyes. I could only imagine what they were thinking. Eww...you live in a oil refinery along the NJ Turnpike!
Next to Snooki!!
That couldn't be farther from the truth.
This morning I drove both kids to school. I commented that the corn was growing super fast. I pointed out the miniature horses in one of the many farms along our route. My trip home took me through a beautiful wooded area. And that's when I realized the truth:
NJ IS BEAUTIFUL!
And it has a really bad public relations problem.
I like parts of L.A. (the purty parts away from the many freeways) but I love NJ. I'm close to the Jersey Shore (the ocean, not those freaking reality turds) which is easy to get to and has ample parking (something I couldn't find in L.A., especially not free). And although surrounded by my surburban comforts, it's not like we're in Hicksville here. I'm less than an hour away from Manhattan - probably the greatest city in America.
My time out in L.A. taught me something. At any given moment one is usually an hour to two hours away from their destination depending on rush hour traffic (which lasts all day). If I could drive anywhere in one hour I'd prefer it were to NYC, or Philadelphia, or hell, Connecticut! I'd rather GO somewhere, anywhere, than spend all my time stuck in my car on the way to the dentist.
On the flipside, I spent some time last summer in lovely Iowa. I appreciated the natural unspoiled beauty and the slower pace (no freeways or turnpikes at all). But once again, Iowa made me truly appreciate NJ. I have farms all around me here. If I want to look at corn, I merely have to look out my window on the way to the grocery store. I am too Jersey (the pace too ingrained in my mind and body) to ever slow down that much. I simply can't see the point in driving one hour just to find, wait for it -- a Bennigans!
Am I saying Jersey is better than Los Angeles or Iowa? Not for everyone. But for me, DEFINITELY.
Feel free to love where you live. You know the beauty the tourists can't see.
But please, oh please, do not ROLL YOUR EYES when I tell you I'm from Jersey.
We got it pretty damn good here.
Besides, haven't you heard? We're home of the Sopranos and the Jersey Housewives.
Be nice or we'll have you whacked.