High School Graduation is now behind us! I am so proud of my girl for all that she has achieved here and for setting herself up right for what’s to come. The movers are on their way. Today is the day I move out of my house. It is going to be bitter sweet closing the door for the last time this week. There will certainly be a lot of things I’m going to miss about life in New Jersey.
A friend posted on FaceBook recently that he was working on his column and asked that we contribute “things we love about the Garden State.” There were a lot of the usual suspects like Springsteen, the Shore, Taylor Ham (or pork roll?), and proximity to New York City (or Philadelphia, depending on who was contributing). There were debates around whether or not pumping one’s own gas is a benefit or a curse, or whether not having to pay sales tax on food and clothing balanced out the high property taxes.
My boyfriend (who was a transplant from New Jersey before moving to Chicago almost 25 years ago) said the things I will miss most about Jersey will be (real) pizza, Chinese food, and spring. My daughter thinks for her it will be good bagels. I think I will miss not having to pump my own gas only in the winter. I’m renting, so I can’t give an assessment on property taxes; but I can tell you that I got a really nice 2-bedroom apartment in a great residential neighborhood in the city for considerably less than New York City rents. And I’ve always wanted to live in a city.
So quick list of things I will miss about (specifically Bergen County) New Jersey that pop into my head…
- Proximity to New York City and the countless wonderful things it has to offer like Broadway and Rockefeller Center at Christmastime, Central Park, the High Line, and the Brooklyn Bridge
- An hour drive north to a ski resort; an hour south to a beach resort
- Sunday driving (and those from Bergen County know what I’m talking about here)
- Accessibility to several major cities from Boston to D.C.
- The Atlantic Ocean, especially along the beach in Montauk (my happy place) and the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore
- Seeing the New York City skyline on the horizon from numerous high places just minutes away
- Running the hills of Palisades in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge or not having to even leave town to find a hill to run
- Hiking trails that lead to the top of high mountains
- Running races and knowing the courses – and the competition!
- Being relatively close to the final resting places of my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles
- Countless friends and the memories of life here for the last 51 years
- And finally, the thing I will really miss about New Jersey – which also happens to be the same thing that gave me incentive to leave – is familiarity.
Back in May, I talked about my life currently as so familiar that it was one I could “lead with my eyes closed.” The part of me that likes to be comfortable, also likes the fact that around here, I can steer my way out of any traffic jam without relying on Waze. I know the history and the stories, about our towns and businesses, and people. I’ve met my elected officials, I understand the politics and I always run into people I know everywhere I go. When people talk about someone in a New Jersey diner, I’m that person in the booth behind them who knows who they’re talking about…and yeah, add “diners” to the list. 🙂
That all makes life here very comfortable, but it can make it boring, too. I am also someone who likes a challenge (and if I’m honest with myself, I will admit that I’m in a little bit of a rut here recently). So off I go to be challenged. This kid who sometimes suffers from separation anxiety is armed with the security of friendships maintained on FaceBook and off to a whole a new adventure. An education awaits. I’ll find you again as soon as I get to Illinois (don’t leave me).