Farewell to the Garden State

Photo courtesy of Tony Webster, via Wikimedia Commons

Winter sucked in the Northeast this year (this is exactly the point at which hordes of Northern-based readers will say crankily to themselves, “No shit!” and surf off somewhere else).  But seriously, it royally, epically sucked.  One day, as I was watching my husband, The Silver Fox, attempt to shovel from the sidewalk a foot of snow that was layered Oreo-like with solid ice on either side, falling repeatedly on his frozen ass as he did so, it hit me.  Why in the hell are we living in New Jersey?

Jon Bon Jovi, please do not take offense; I mean this with no ill will to your fair port de naissance whatsoever.  The Garden State has been good to me and my family–my job is here (the one that doesn’t involve creative writing), my son went to preschool and kindergarten here, and we’ve had fun.  But essentially, that’s it.  We have a network of friends and family in Florida.  The house that we own is there.  And guess what?  They have schools and companies there, too!

So, just like Anthony did in the song, we’re movin’ out.  And there’s stuff we’ll really miss, as well as stuff we’d just as soon leave on the shoulder of the NJ Turnpike at the state line.  So before we pack up the car and the pets and cruise down I-95 to the land of palm trees, I’d like to provide for your consideration a list of the Top Ten Things I’ll Miss (and Not Miss) About New Jersey (Northern NJ to be specific, for those in the know):

Stuff I Won’t Miss

5. Jughandles–for those blissfully unaware of this vehicular pain in the ass, a jughandle is a right turn exit that gets you back in the other direction through a convoluted and unnecessarily confusing ramp.  Sneeze and your’re screwed.

4. The Jersey Shore–leave after 6 AM and you’re promised a commute that will make you crave the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Then there are the loud, pasty Northerners covering every square inch of exposed beach, and the shore houses you apparently have to rent at birth.

3. Asinine Cost of Living–I don’t even want to tell you how much money we’ll save by moving south. It’s decadent.

2. Generalized Grunge–there are truly beautiful areas in this state–gorgeous, really–so it just makes the places lined with scungy, slightly sketchy strip malls and beaten-up…well, everything…that much more unfortunate.

1. Traffic–from the Tappan Zee to the Bayonne to the GW, traffic in New Jersey can truly blow.  The good news is, you can often say screw it, and take the train.  Just don’t expect to get a seat on the midtown direct at rush hour.

Stuff I’ll Really Miss

5. Bitchin’ Food Pronunciation–in Pittsbugh, my hometown, the word prosciutto has an vowel at the end of it.  Not in NJ.  Neither does antipasto, sopressata, or mozzarella.  I dig it.

4. Italian Food in General–dear, sweet Lidia Bastianich is it good.  Trying to find that kind of pizza in Florida will be like trying to find that kind of pizza in Spain.  Just…no.

3. Somebody Else Pumping My Gas–it’s mandatory in NJ that gas station attendants manage your fill-ups.  Having to once again get out of my car at BP will piss me off, especially when it’s 90 degrees outside.

2. The Jersey Shore–Yes it’s crowded and loud, and yes, you need to have a degree in strategic planning to figure or how to get there without bursting a blood vessel and mouthing off to Aunt Phyllis in the car.  But there’s Cape May.  And Stone Harbor.  And all the other beautiful and bustling beach towns  just waiting to craft for you and your family some bespoke precious memories.

1. Jersey Boys and Girls–they’re a salty, ballsy crowd, but you always know where you stand with people from this fair state, and if they’re with you, they’re with you all the way.  Fortunately for me, our Florida town is chock-full of Jersey transplants, so all I need do in order to reunite with these lovely folk is to walk down the Main Street of town between November and March, when they all join me under the palms so that they too can avoid falling on their asses while shoveling snow.  It’s a win-win.


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