“At the end of the day, life is about being happy being who you are.”~Kim Kardashian, American celebrity
I’m in New Jersey now, and I’m surprisingly happy.
I lived in NJ for almost 10 years before getting married and moving to Delaware and then Michigan. I thought I’d paid my dues and earned the right never to return, but Destiny has a weird sense of humor.
My life before was not entirely a bad one. I was here during those formative, post-college years. I worked part-time. I worked full-time. I gained weight. I lost weight. I found new friends, and I pushed some of those nasty people out of my life. I fell in what-I-thought-was-love. I broke up. I was broken up. I drove to Asbury Park one winter evening to see The Stone Pony, musical home of Bruce Springsteen, just because I could. I got engaged. I was gifted a new car. I paid off credit card debt. Family members died while I was away here. I developed stronger writing skills and wrote some intensely fun, intricate newspaper articles. My time here was not a waste, but there is that stigma towards NJ. To an extent, that is true.
People are rude. There is a lot of traffic which frustrates people which makes them rushed which adds to traffic which makes people cranky and when they stop to buy something on the way home, they are still rushed and therefore rude. Gangsta songs and movies, reality shows and controversial musicians all come from here. I get the stereotype and therefore the stigma.
Adding to that, the more north you go, which means closer to New York, generally the more traffic rush and rudeness you’ll find. Guess where we are?
In my week here, I’ve been surprised by my presumptions and misconceptions. Public conversations have been pleasant. I had three spontaneous conversations in Starbucks and chatty staff at two local coffee shops. I didn’t expect outgoing people. Most drivers seem to honor the speed limit of 65mph, and I’ve only been cutoff twice and honked at once. I’m the one balancing and adjusting to the speed limit here having come from a 70mph state.
My husband is happy, and I mean ecstatically so. He’s in a positive work environment, and he comes “home” after work talking about his work, not office politics. I put home in quotation marks because we’re currently in temporary housing at an extended-stay hotel while we search for a house.
I’m happy because I have the freedom right now to write as much as I want. Coffee shops have become my daytime office, so I make sure to order enough coffee and food to justify my time here supporting the local environment.
I met my realtor for the first time last night. My husband met her twice before, but this was my first time. We clarified areas to look at, how best to contact each other, identified what language I should avoid in listings and the research she needs to do so we don’t waste our time.
Today, while I await her updated emails, I’m at a new coffeeshop writing and playing Café Bingo. I received the game as a going away present from my Deadwood writerly friend, Kelly. The cardboard bingo card has 25 images of coffee shop clichés. When you spot one, you push back the appropriate square rather than stamp an ink circle like a traditional bingo card. These cards are reusable since the squares just bend back and not pop out. No waste or lost pieces to deal with.
Since I’m here by myself, I try to see if I can get all squares pushed in. It makes me stop and look up from my laptop. To embrace the friendliness and the openness. To be present.
But no Bingo. That’s okay.