Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Love Story

Cross the river to the Jersey side
Take my baby to the carnival
And I'll take her on all the rides
'Cause down the shore everything's all right
"Jersey Girl" Performed by Bruce Springsteen

I fell in love when I was a very young girl.  Maybe some would have said that I was too young to fall in love, but I did.  I fell hard. 

  File photo. Me at about 3 already madly in love with the Jersey Shore.

It was easy to fall in love with NJ.  Sure, it was all I knew but it was all I wanted to know.  As a kid, I got to spend summers down the shore and in the pool and winters playing in the snow.  I rode my bike and played outside for hours in the spring and fall.  All my friends were in walking distance.  The town where I grew up had a center where we hung out as teenagers.  We ate at diners and pizzerias.  We had season passes to Great Adventure.  I hopped on the train to get to the greatest city in the world, NYC.  I root for the Giants and the Yankees--don't you dare confuse me for someone that roots for the Jets and/or the Mets.  And most importantly, for the first 25 years of my life I NEVER pumped my own gas!

 File photo. This is what fall looks like.

I had a brief affair with California during my pre-teen years.  My grandmother lived in San Francisco at the time.  I was almost a 49ers fan--still love Steve Young!  I was convinced I would go to USC for college.  But I grew out of it.  California was just puppy love. What I have with NJ is true love.

Throw your stereotypes out the window.  I never met a soul from NJ that says "Joisey"; that's a Staten Island thing.  I have a little accent but nothing like the ones you hear on TV.  Don't ask me to say dog, talk, call, or coffee and you'll never know where I'm from.

I made a decision with the man I love that I would leave the only place I knew, the place I loved.  I was supposed to be the girl that never left.  I liked that.  But the love of my life was in Houston and I wanted to be in the same state as him for the first time in our relationship.  I did most of my packing within 2 days before leaving.  I am not the type to procrastinate.  I just thought the longer I put it off the less likely it was that I would be leaving.  The day before I left, with 5 people in my apartment--including my future husband--I locked myself in the bathroom and balled my eyes out.

Of course, I wasn't just leaving the only place I loved but I was leaving a lot of people I loved.  I went to college 17 miles away from my home.  My parents are two of my best friends in the world.  I saw them several times a week.  How was I going to leave them 1500 miles behind?

It was something I wanted to do.  Even more so, probably something I needed to do.

I was definitely in shock when I got to Houston in September '08.  Partially because a week and a half later Hurricane Ike, the most devastating hurricane to hit the city in over 20 years, hit Houston/Galveston.  But even after that, I was still in shock.  I didn't have a job.  I was surrounded by highways, rather than small towns.  The Gulf coast is VERY different from the Jersey shore.  Oh, and Houston is noticeably flat.  Who notices that, right?  Trust me.  The only hills around here are the ones that are man-made.  There are only 2 seasons, summer and fall.  Natives will tell you differently but trust me, that's it.

I spent my first Christmas Eve locked in a closet, crying, and calling my mother.  That was nice of me, make sure I drag my mother into it.

In January, I found a job and after some time, I started making friends.  With friends, I started to become less home sick.  Houston wasn't replacing home but it was starting to become another one.  In July, we were married in NJ, of course.  And by August, we had our first child.  We adopted Nikki, an American Bulldog mix, from a local rescue.  My father spent Thanksgiving with me that year--our first holiday that we had woken up together for since I was a young child.  Christmas was hard again but not locking myself in the closet was an improvement.

 File photo. Nikki (left) & Stella (right). 
Finally found an excuse to post a picture of my girls.
Expect more of these.
By February, we brought home our 2nd child, Nikki's littermate, Stella.  Now we were in an 2-bedroom second floor apartment with two large dogs (50 & 75 lbs at the time).  It is easy to love Texas in the winter.  Beautiful weather for 6 months. Windows opened for nearly that entire time.  No bugs.  My husband and I talked about how it would be so much easier for us to make a life here than in NJ--the original plan had always been to go back--because of the cost of living.  We started eyeing the prices of homes and couldn't believe how much we could get for so little.  We decided it was best for our children for us to stay.  So we began a search for a house.

We found one in May, closed on it in June, and moved in in July '10.  Our home is beautiful.  Sometimes I still look around in amazement about what we are living in at such a young age.  I haven't been homesick for NJ in a long time.

Then we went back to NJ last month for a friend's wedding and spent 2 days down the shore.  Being on beach did it.  For the first time, in a long time, I had that feeling in my gut. The one that says 'How is this not my home anymore? How are my kids not going to experience this?'  I dropped a bomb on my husband a couple of weeks ago.  I told him that I want to go back.  He was shocked.  I haven't talked like that in a long time.  I think he thinks it's a phase and it will go away.  Who knows, maybe it will.  He's ignored the fact that I said that.  He does that when he doesn't know how to handle a situation. He learned that from his family, just ignore uncomfortable situations. No need to address them.

File photo. From July trip. Beautiful Jersey water in the morning.
Whoever came up with Dirty Jersey never went to the Gulf.
Sorry, Gulf, but look what you're up against.
File photo. From July trip.
"Crowded" Jersey shore.  
Anyone from NJ can tell you this is a SLOW day!

File photo. Seaside boardwalk at night. From July trip.

It's almost like a break up.  I have to take one day at a time.  If I won't be with NJ today, I can handle it.  If I think that I'll never be with NJ again, it becomes overwhelming and I want it back.  Who knows what the future will hold.  I never would have thought that at 28 I would have lived in Texas for 3 years!  It still sounds unbelievable to me.

Whether we ever go back to NJ or not, the one thing that is undeniable is that I am a Jersey Girl through and through. Where I live will never change that.

One last thing about NJ, it is NOT shaped like a sock! 'Nuf said.

On a totally unrelated note, I had a dream last night where I was listening to New Kids on the Block, and I woke up with Cover Girl stuck in my head. Awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the photos! I can understand you missing the shore. I'm only next door (in PA) but I don't get there as often as I like. I just love the Atlantic Coast. Not just Jersey but Maryland too. Cali & Flordia get all the glory, but Jersey & Maryland have some of the most beautiful beaches and ocean views I have even seen!