First things first – I’m one of Columbus’ biggest fans. Even though I am her resident by choice, not birthright, this not-so-sleepy burg in the center of Ohio has always meant a host of things to my life: new beginnings, coming into my own, learning to trust myself and others again. In many ways, I’ve watched the growth of the city parallel my own over the last almost two decades. No matter where I go in the world, I’m always one of Columbus’ biggest ambassadors. I truly believe we have something special here, and I endeavor to bust the stereotypes of our flyover state image on a daily basis.
Still, no matter how long I’ve been here, no matter how long I stay here, it will never be “home” for me. South Jersey, will always, and I mean ALWAYS, have that dubious distinction for me. Warts and all, it’s the place where I was born and the place I spent the first 23 years of my life. It’s the place where I know ten ways to get anywhere on back country roads within a half hour, the place that even though is eerily familiar, it never ceases to surprise me each time I visit. It’s a place where local has been a way of life longer than I’ve been alive.
If your image of New Jersey begins and ends with Snooki and Co. and involves a punchline about an exit off the turnpike, prepare to have your preconceived notions busted. That’s not the New Jersey I know. Even though I’ve talked about New Jersey before in my blog entries, I don’t think I’ve ever gone into great detail about why I love it so. I’ve just returned from a very cathartic two week trip (thus the radio silence on my end, as I’ve been out living life to its fullest rather than experiencing it from the periphery). This time around, though – I took pictures, and lots of them. So, in the upcoming couple of weeks, expect a bunch of entries about my trips – both this one, and my visit to New Jersey in late 2010 for my reunion (right before I got really sick). And in the upcoming months, I’ll probably be making another substantially long visit as well during the summer months, one where I’ll talk about the real Jersey shore, what Jersey Fresh really means, and about one of my favorite Jersey pastimes – fishing and crabbing.
I really feel as if I’m at a crossroads. Almost dying changed almost everything about my life, and the pull of home gets stronger each time I visit. It’s like a tug of war with the best of each world pulling me in that direction. This year will be about the ties that bind me to each locale, and about figuring out what’s most important in my life. Thanks for taking the journey with me.