The Garden State

You know you have done it, mocked the state of New Jersey merely because you heard someone else do it. It sounded cool; it was the in thing to do. Futurama mocked it. “Why is this apartment so cheap?” — “Well, technically it’s in New Jersey.”

I’ve mocked the state. Now I live here.

Recently, I invited someone out to Pier A, Hoboken’s waterfront park with an unmatched view of the New York skyline and the Hudson River. In response this person jested, “Or, we can hang out on the West Side Highway of Manhattan and look out at Jersey.”

When my friend Devin and I throw parties, we often get exasperated looks from invited guests. “Jersey???” they ask in stupefaction. “It’s so…far.”

For some, crossing the state border in the 4 minute and 30 second subway ride from Christopher Street to Hoboken is an act of personal defilement. Never mind that the L to Brooklyn takes longer (I’ve timed them). Never mind that New York considers Staten Island, the realm of land fills and strange smells, to be more a part of the city than Hoboken. Never mind that your MTA Metro Card works in both the NY subways and the PATH system. Never mind that people once came to Hoboken and its green forests to get away from the bustle of Manhattan, that it used to be a haven for busy New Yorkers. Crossing the state border is a sin unmentionable. And living there, well, that’s a sin unpardonable.

Sure, there are belching smoke stacks off I-95 that put the opening scene of Blade Runner to shame. Sure, parts of North Jersey feel like God just threw his arms up and said, “I give up.” But New Jersey has forests to the west and south filled with deer, wild turkey, bear, and other animals; it’s not all toxic fumes. Most of Jersey is quite beautiful. Plus New Jersey was one of the first states to fund stem-cell research, and its Jersey Shore and its lively beach community rivals anything I’ve ever seen on Long Island or Connecticut.

It’s not a perfect state. It has its flaws like any other. I’m just asking people to get over their stupid, petty belief that they’re superior merely because they live in a particular state. I would bet that most of the New Yorkers who roll their eyes and make the same, tired old jokes about Jersey aren’t even from New York; they’re transplants. Unlike them, I was born in New York. I grew up there. And now I live in New Jersey.

So get over it.

5 Replies to “The Garden State”

  1. Also, NJ Pinelands was the very first National nature preserve, and a pretty big one at over 1 mln acres. I live there!

  2. I live in Jersey. Exit 153B. Used to live next to Exit 49. Yes, I love the Parkway. But there’s a ton of parks up by me to help avoid all the smoky smog.

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