Between Instagram, Facebook, and everything in-between, it seems that I am constantly sharing my unconditional love for San Francisco. After all, I have lived here for 13 years and it IS a magical city for sure. One thing I am always proud to admit though, is that I am a "Jersey Girl". There is something about Jersey people, we are all proud to be from New Jersey, yet so many of us leave. People from out here and other places often ask me why I am proud to be from New Jersey. I totally get it, I do. To an outsider, or a person whose only contact with NJ is merely their shitty experience in Newark Airport, I can see how they wouldn't understand the pride that goes along with being a New Jerseyan. I mean, to them, NJ is nothing but the "Armpit of America", a scene out of "The Sopranos", "The Jersey Shore", or "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." While these stereotypes do exist, they are just a small representation of Jersey culture.
New Jersey is not just a place that is known for saying "caaawfee", Newark Airport, "The Parkway", or big hair and fake tans (although I did have both at some point). Below are some of the many reasons why I am proud to be from New Jersey (in no specific order).
1. New Jersey is actually known as the Garden State. Sure we love our Disco Fries and our Diner Food, but New Jersey is famous(or not so much) for our agriculture. Despite everyone's perception of NJ as just an extension of Newark, the reality is, that much of North Jersey is covered in farmland. (I even partially grew up on one). People drive an hour out of the city sometimes just to score some Jersey tomatoes and corn. Ask anyone that moves away, I guarantee they all say the same about those two. I'll never forget my very first"real" job when I was 14 working at a produce stand. When the corn was finally good to go in August, it was so delicious and sweet that I would sit there during my break eating it raw. And hey, if that wasn't cool enough, our real claim to fame is that the blueberry capital of the world is in Hammonton, New Jersey.
2. The Jersey Shore. To be honest before 2009, I would have said the Jersey Shore needs no introduction, description, or explanation. However, since that show forever damaged the reputation and credibility of it, I need to elaborate a bit. The Jersey Shore in general and as a whole, is one of the most awesome and special places in this country. The water, the beaches, the sunrises, the natural landscape....it is all amazing. It is a perfect place for a beach vacation with family or friends, for young and old. There is something for everyone at the shore. It's laid back vibe is the perfect choice for families looking to switch off from the hustle and bustle of their crazy fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle. For further proof of it's awesomeness, check out my photos on Instagram I posted exactly a year ago.
3. New Jersey Diners. Where else can you go at 3 am after you get out of a bar and order pretty much anything you want to eat: a burger, breakfast, or a full dinner? There is without a doubt a typical late night or 24 hour diner close by no matter where you are in the state. I think back to being a teenager, we would go hangout, drink "cawfee" for hours on end, eat, and congregate at diners til late at night. At Jersey diners, the food is typically inexpensive yet tasty and the atmosphere is social, allowing you to meet up with old and new friends.
4. Humor. There is something special about the humor in NJ. People in NY constantly bash on Jersey calling people that hail from the Garden State wannabes and the like. Instead of New Jerseyans feeling bad about this, most people kinda go along, like in a funny self deprecating way. The sarcasm in New Jersey and the tri-state area is funny and unique. It does, however, sometimes make it hard when travelling to some other parts of the world. It is not easily translated in text and can definitely get you in trouble at times. The beauty of Jersey sarcasm though, is that it can be quite a humbling humor. No one lets anyone get too arrogant, because they know if they do, their friends will be sure to knock them down a few notches. The banter and leg pulling is so back and forth sometimes, it can make for exciting and hilarious conversation. To be honest, it can make you stronger because you never really know when someone is sincere or joking. It's definitely not for everyone, but I love it and miss it.
5. There is a reason why one of the smallest states in the nation breeds so many celebrities.. The extensive list of comedians, actors, musicians, inventors, and scholars past and present from NJ is way too long to list. The thing is though, is that NJ is one of the most educated states in the US, combined with the humor, and it's proximity to NY, people from New Jersey have something to prove. We want to be heard, we want to prove people from New Jersey are awesome, and we are headstrong and determined.
6. Something that is not unique to New Jersey, but to that area of the country, is that growing up we really, truly endured four true seasons. We are adaptable people. We can handle extremes and we still go to work and school and function in them. The very hot and humid summers, along with the cold and snowy winters and the rainy springs enable New Jerseyans to handle and conquer most hurdles.
7. Along with humor, general hospitality, and kindness are also true of New Jerseyans. Yes, I know this sounds unrealistic to most people as NJ is known for their rudeness but I want to explain. New Jersey people can seem not bubbly and "friendly" in the traditional sense, and I believe most of this is due to the guarded behavior and sarcasm. I challenge you though, spend 5 mins with a person from NJ just talking and most likely you will learn a lot about them. It is a place where people get to know their neighbors and community and become friends with them. In general, they are always willing to pull together in a challenging situation. If you know are a "friend of a friend", in most cases you will be invited in and treated like family in their house. I have this theory, and no offense to people of SF, but in my time here I have developed this based on my observations. While I love this city dearly, I find it very difficult to meet people from here and make friends. This is why: In San Francisco, or even the Bay Area, people are very surface friendly. People can exchange compliments or niceties. People will greet you, smile at you, nod their head when bumping into you on the street and even compliment your attire and such here with no problem. However, when it comes to exchanging more than pleasantries, people are very guarded and make it difficult to get to know anyone. In NJ, it is the opposite, people might pretend like they judge in in the first minute of meeting, but they are just using that moment to determine what kind of person and personality you are. After that initial moment, they can unleash their whole life story on you, and in record time. Before you know it, they are planning a night out with you and inviting you to their house for dinner. Prime example, I lived in an apartment for nearly 3 years here, the same neighbor, right next door, and they never even knew my name. This is not one isolated experience. Almost every person from NJ or NY that I know that lives here has said the same thing to me.
8. The Fall. There are few things more beautiful than the foliage in North Jersey during the Autumn season. Shades of red,orange, gold, green, and brown surround you everywhere you turn along with the crisp sweater weather air. The smell is intoxicating of pumpkins, apples, leaves, and people lighting their fireplaces for the first cool nights of the year. There is something very magical about Autumn in NJ and NY, an actual indescribable feeling.
9. Music. New Jersey is known for celebrities as I mentioned above including many musicians. What I didn't include though is the local music celebrities, The amazing "cover bands" that travel up and down the state playing bars, small venues, and private gigs are nothing to "fuhget" about. Jersey has some entertaining, great LIVE music and there is nothing like the cover bands (A band that plays covers of many genres of music or a tribute band that plays songs from one band or musician) at the Shore in the summer. The bars get packed, patrons let loose, have some drinks, and dance the night way to bands like The Nerds, The Benjamins, and The B Street Band to name a few. It is unlike any other experience....the bands play the crowd favorites and the fans seem to know how to have a great time with no pretentiousness involved....Just good ole fashioned fun.
Alright, well I'm sure I didn't sell anyone with that list, but it's just a few of the reasons why I am proud to be from NJ. I honestly could elaborate on this for days. New Jersey is not the armpit of America, despite popular belief. It is a small state with a beaming personality. NJ natives may not love the weather there completely, and I say that is the main reason for relocating, but we almost always regret not living there for Autumn (fall) as well as those warm summer nights. New Jersey has beautiful scenery along with a close proximity to two major metropolitan areas. It is unlike any other area of the country and I wish I could personally show every single person all of my favorite beautiful areas of the state. There are so many cool stories, hidden gems, and unique things about Jersey, yet it is still so underrated. I must admit, I write this as I am a bit homesick, but just as they always say: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". See you soon NJ!