Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where I Grew Up

There is a joke that people say when you tell them you are from New Jersey.  They ask you what exit you are from.  There is this misconception that New Jersey is all refineries and highways.  Indeed, if you pass through on your way from Philly to New York, that is what you may see.  But I didn't hear that joke until I was in college in Vermont.  When I heard it, I did not understand it as I had no idea what exit off the Turnpike or Parkway to take to get to my home.

This is what the roads where I grew up look like:

My parents actually live in a development of homes that are all fairly similar.  Now that development is off of a super congested highway, but when I was a kid that highway was two lanes and hardly any traffic.  We had supermarkets close by, but to get to any other stores you had to drive 15 or 20 minutes. A lot of that has changed now, but there is still a lot of beautiful farmland.

I grew up driving past fields like these, watching horses and cows and sheep in pastures.  

My friends lived on farms.  My parents wanted to buy a farm, we used to drive around on weekends...looking at land, horses, pastures, barns....  In high school we had bon fires and keg parties in field like these, in the barns of farms.

I love the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and for the longest time, I wanted to get the heck out of here.  Nothing happens here, that was what we grew up saying.  Now, I wouldn't trade being from here for the world.  I love it.  Jason and I often talk about moving back --we almost did last winter!-- we live maybe a half hour from here now...but living back here would put a half hour each way on Jason's commute.  That is the one drawback, this is farther away from main roads {so maybe there is something to the question of what exit you are from}.  Where we live now, we can hop on a main road in a matter of minutes and get anywhere we need to be or to any of the branches of Jason's company in less than an hour.

But it sure is beautiful in the country.

When Jason and I first got married, we lived in the upstairs apartment of this house.  A nice family, that we are still friends with today, lived downstairs.  See the little door on the right? That was the door to our apartment.  When you open the door, there is a flight of stairs.  At the top is a little hallway, two bedrooms, a big kitchen and a living room.  I loved that apartment.

When we lived there, my best friend from high school and college and her husband lived a few miles away.  We would meet up at this place every Friday and Saturday night.  It's the kind of place with scuffed floors and pictures of Kenny Rogers and The Duke on the walls.

Back in the fall, Jason and I decided on the spur of the moment to go Hillbilly Hall.  This is where we had the Rehearsal Dinner for our wedding.  Classy, right?  Honestly, it fits us to a tee and the food is REALLY good.  Jason and I have come a long way in our culinary adventures since our early twenties and we were nervous to see if we would like the food.  My best friend and I used to order the Jalapeno Poppers immediately upon sitting down and, so, Jason and I stuck with tradition and did that again.  Oh. My. Heavens.  these were just good old-fashioned down-home fried goodness!
It's the kind of place that still has a cigarette machine--we had not seen one in YEARS, the girls had no idea what it was-so we had to take a picture!
I love the simplicity of this place.  I love that when we drive around, some of the houses are a little worse for wear, but no one seems to care.  I love that it is not all about appearances.  Maybe when you get closer to the cities it becomes about that?  Or maybe it's just where we live?  Or maybe it's generational?  I have no idea.  I just wanted to share that this is where I am from.  It's not so different from the parts of North Carolina that I have been.  Maybe you think it's really different than where you are from...maybe not.  I just want you to know that THIS is New Jersey.