Monday, October 15, 2012
List it Tuesday 10/16: what I love about where I live
Welcome to List it Tuesday! Today's suggested topic was "what I love about where I live." It's been nearly a year since we landed in North Jersey with our feet planted firmly in the air, and there they have stayed. I have plenty to whine about, but I also have plenty to rave about. Here are my top reasons for loving where I live.
1. Bagels. Oh, the bagels. Once you have a bagel from the New York City environs, that's it. Everything else after that is a "roll with a hole", as Tammy says. (On a side note, she has an ongoing list collaboration with iHanna - definitely worth a visit for all list lovers!) Back to bagels: these are the real deal, the kind that are cheap, plentiful, hot and fresh every day, the kind that turn stale if you don't eat within hours. Last week my husband and I were driving on the New York Thruway and saw a bagel explosion on the side of the road. They were everywhere. There are so many bagels here that people just don't know what to do with them.
2. Same goes for pizza. It's fabulous. It's ubiquitous. And it's authentic. If they tell you it is a recipe that has been handed down for generations, it is true, and it is probably Nonna in the kitchen who is making it.
3. Mom and pop shops. By default pretty much everything is locally owned. The big guys are here, but definitely not dominant. I love being in a place where the big boxes aren't the go-to for everything.
4. Nature. In less than 15 minutes I can be free of the u-turn mess and hiking happily in the hills. A few blog readers sent me notes before my move telling me 1) don't believe everything you've heard about New Jersey and 2) how beautiful it is once you're out of the urban fray -- and now I understand.
5. City. So much at my fingertips here -- in a flash. This summer we might as well have just lived in New York City. My older daughter took a weeklong fiber arts course in Greenwich Village, we soaked up Brooklyn, we played in parks all over the city, went to museums, sat on the sidewalks and watched people do the things they do while we ate waffles with Nutella. I love being able to explore without rushing, knowing I can go back whenever I want.
6. Nonsense borders. I love the unpredictability of the municipality changes here. There are so many townships, villages and boroughs smashed together in a tiny sliver of land that I'm never quite sure where I am. Unless I'm trying to get somewhere on time and wind up in a mess of u-turns, it is a relieving departure from the obedient lines of the Midwest.
7. Public transit. Excellent.
8. People. Away with the rude and unfriendly label. The folks I've met here -- particularly the ones who have grown up and have stayed here -- are some of the genuine, solicitous people I've ever met. Commuters make room for my kids on the subway and talk to them, and not in a creepy way. The conversations between bagel shop owners and their regulars are entertaining and funny. The NJ Transit bus drivers and train attendants repeatedly tell me to quit buying tickets for my six year old because she looks three and should ride for free; they put smiley faces in their tickets with the hole punch; they joke around with them. When you get your coffee and they ask how your day is going, they mean it; they want to know. People seem genuinely tied to a community here. I don't even have to be part of it to enjoy it. I just like that it exists. (This of course doesn't apply to road behavior. Drivers have to be aggressive to get where they need to go -- if you block their way and make them miss their exit, they're screwed for the whole day.)
9. Art community. The networking in the online art community always delights me with its connective powers but I was truly blown away by the outpouring of open arms by local artists once they found out I was moving to the area. Karen, Lisa, Beth and Jennifer in particular gave me a hearty welcome and an instant friendship.
10. Education. Top notch. Grateful for that.
11. Anchor to the ocean. Just knowing I'm near water makes me feel settled and secure even when I'm not.
12. Anchor to the past. History lingers here and I can feel it everywhere I go.
So -- there may be no zombie walks where I live now, no Funkytown, no UFO conventions and no Dennis sightings that I was so used to in my beloved little adopted hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. And all that stuff that Jersey is notorious for is definitely here if you want to find it. But I don't, and I don't have to; there's plenty else here to keep me content. And if that isn't enough, my parents did some enthusiastic digging into our genealogy and found more than one branch of our family with deep, multi-generational roots in New Jersey not far from where I'm living now. So maybe I'm a Jersey girl after all. I just wish I could pump my own gas.
Next week's suggested topic: "overheard".
Posted by aimee