Thursday, February 15, 2007

Won't you be my neighbor?

I've written about feeling lonely, such as last week when I realized I had no place to stay when my heat went out. But I haven't written about how warm and friendly New Jersey has been for me.

I have some GREAT neighbors. My landlords, who live upstairs on the weekends, are nice and friendly and warm and responsive. And they share their beer. My right-hand neighbors are a retired couple and they are like grandparents--always there for me to borrow a cup of sugar or what not. They made some amazing, home-made from scratch, onion soup the other night and gave me a frozen batch. And, in return, I try to do things like wipe off their car of snow when I am dusting off mine, or things like that.

This morning, I was leaving my street as a car started to drive down, and the driver waved to me. Did I know him? No. Does it matter? Not really. That's just life on the island.

I know what some of you are thinking right now: "Warm and friendly? New Jersey? What?"

This state gets a bad rap. And most states that have bad raps have people saying they have bad raps (how do I unwrap myself from that tongue-twister?). But New Jersey is such an interesting state because it almosts has five eco-systems or something. North Jersey is a different beast from the Jersey Shore which is different from South Jersey and Central Jersey. Also, there is a chunk of Northwestern Jersey that is different too.

All this in a state that is 70 miles wide and 150 miles long. It's amazing!

North and much of Central Jersey strikes me as being very New York-oriented. Most of the people who live there work and play in the city, and drive/train home for sleep. That's the part that is a little more rough and tough, I think. Probably because New Jersey is ranked 47th in terms of size but 11th in terms of population, and the majority is crammed into that portion. I'd be watching my own too!

South Jersey (I only know Ocean County, not the parts closer to Philly) is a little slower-paced and some parts are a little backwards, to me. I've had some...racial run-ins...where people just don't seem to be aware that its not okay to use the N-word. (Some people call people down here "Pineys" which refers to the Pinelands, a large swath of greenery in the middle of the state. It's like the Southern Ocean word for "hick.")
I think its ignorance, not actual racism per se. But, besides that stuff, it reminds me of Minnesota in that its full of nice people who wave and stuff.

I wonder how things will change in the summer...I mean, I know its going to get mad-crowded and there will be all sorts of North Jersey/Philadelphia/New York people summering, so its going to be a lot more awake. I sort of like my sleepy little town without stoplights right now...

Oh and everyone drinks Yeungling beer likes its going out of circulation. Very Philadelphia.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

That's cute! I love it when strangers are nice just because it's the polite thing to do!