but my heart is feeling all sentimental over new jersey. knowing me, you know this does not happen too often and i really think new joizee and i need to take every opportunity offered to be friends. even wee hour ones.
we have lived here one year today [okay yesterday]. one year and one day ago we were on the pennsylvania turnpike; i had ben’s cellphone and he had my car keys. it was just me and God (and atticus but he was sleeping) in a ditch. so i pitched a fit. a bon-a-fide fist pounding, heel thumping, hair flinging fit. i didn’t want to move to New Jersey.
i have been very resistant to liking this state, insisting i belong in the west. to persuade me, jersey offers me the ocean. i tell her i prefer mountains. and so our relationship has gone…
but i’m softening – i can feel it. tonight – as i celebrate our “one year” – warm thoughts come rushing in. and there i go, making a top
ten eleven list again [a sure sign of happiness] – affectionately titled…
why new jersey isn’t so bad:
- people pump your gas for you [and your husband whose hand you’re holding].
- people have high outer walls and low inner walls. me too. i don’t make eye contact or niceties in the supermarket line but once you’re in you may never make it to the check out. one day we went to a party filled with joizee girls – and boys – that we had never met. by the end we were talking about generation gaps, depression, and the Church. the weather wasn’t mentioned once. yes please.
- wawa. at first glance it’s a gas station. i see now that it’s home of flavored, cheap, but somehow good coffee, classic hoagie [hoagie love runs deep here – somehow people don’t grow tired of them. personally, i reached my limit in november], and ever bonding late night runs. for the first time in eight years i won’t feel like a scumbag getting john a wawa gift card for christmas.
- late night made me think of diners. now, i must say i’ve not really had a successful “diner night” but i still love the idea of them. neon lights, bad waitresses, booths, pajamas, waffles, an eternal flow of coffee, girlfriends, and low inner walls at their lowest. yes, i will keep trying.
- local produce in the summer. sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini. picking your own blueberries then making a pie. num num.
- pennsylvania in all it’s rich history, rolling hills, open fields, organic farms, and amishness. i love that state and am proud to be its nearest neighbor.
- people’s sociality. spellcheck is telling me that’s not a word but i notice that people here gather much more often than in the midwest. and if they do not have a good reason for tuesday at 2 o’clock, they make one up. sitting with a cup of wine listening to les miserables with no end time in mind is perfectly acceptable. there’s no shame in “i miss you and want to be with you” (said in a joking, nonchalant, you can’t hurt me kind of way, of course). hey, i’ll take whatever way i can get it. i have longed for this my whole life.
- the eagles. if the only thing south jersey offered was the electricity of eagles football, i’d still consider it.
- wooder (water). encauragment (encouragement). awrnge (orange). haury (hurry). haurable (horrible). illinoize (illinois). while i listen to chicago radio to keep me sharp and unaffected, i have come to enjoy this funny dialect.
- this one i say tentatively because sometimes i get downright tired of it. but, it is a type of communication – carefully sculpted and executed – that i am learning to appreciate (in doses). it is the witty, fast, back-and-forth, never ending sarcasm. they make it look effortless but really everyone’s on their toes, waiting for a perfectly said jab at the perfectly placed time. these jabs always seem to touch the line but not go over. the really talented jersey-ites use this art to say “you are special” and “i love you” – and you actually feel more loved than if they had said it outright. when i try it, i usually land a mile over the line and spend the rest of the evening crawling back. i ask ben if she said this, why can’t i say that? it’s an art – complete with rules, skills, and expertise – that new jersey has perfected. i curtsy and applaud.
- tracey, tracy, elisabeth, joanna, jamie, brian, kristen, brian, sophia, dad, mom, john, tim, jana, kristen, rachel, amy, nneka, justin, jen, noah, bethany, tim, mike, megan, meghan, jessa, jessica, shaina, ellie, and i’m sure more. a little or a lot and in all different places, these people have filled my heart.
as i think about this year and our life in new jersey, the phrase “He has withheld no good thing” comes over and over. little did i know that the very thing i pleaded with God to take away would be the thing to bring such good.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.