Once upon a time, I grew up in the best state ever. (Me? Biased? Nah..) New Jersey was probably the best place to grow up because it was both fast-paced, and slow at the same time. Living there most likely instilled in me the “never stop” lifestyle that I still have today. I have a seriously difficult time just spending a day at home, even though in theory that would be a good thing.
Close your eyes and picture horns honking, vendors yelling in at least 4 different languages, the distinct smells of street food, sweat, and determination. Then imagine being slightly, but firmly pushed through a crowd of people heading down dirty concrete steps to an already jam-packed subway. Power walking was the norm, having to get everywhere quickly and on time…it was intense and that intensity was seemingly never-ending. But then if you took the time to really look around, right there in front of you was the softer side of the city, something most tourists never saw because they were so swept up in the city that never sleeps. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, people taking long walks with their dogs, and families picnicking in Central Park. Bike rides through smaller, local streets, hole in the wall pizza places where the owners knew your name (S/O to Champion Pizza! You made my childhood delicious! Best pizza in NYC guys. No joke), you get the idea.
So, growing up my dad and I used to subway into the city, oh gosh, on most weekends just for fun. But in 1999, everything changed. My dad got into a horrible car accident. The hospitals in NJ near us couldn’t help him, so he was brought to Virginia for medical attention. My mom and I followed. After months of back and forth, my mom ended up accepting a job offer in Richmond, Virginia so we could stay for my dad. I honestly don’t know if it was ever their intention to stay in Virginia, but that’s what ended up happening. We left New Jersey and never looked back. Well, I think I was the only one to look back. I missed it. That fast-paced feeling, and then that relaxing feeling of coming home after a whole day of that rush…nothing compares to it. In Virginia, everything is slower, calmer, and most people are content with staying at home or just moving throughout their day in a more relaxed way. I felt like a fish out of water. I felt that I shouldn’t have these massive urges to “get out of the house” as my dad used to say. But I still have them. And you know what? I don’t think that will ever stop.
Time travel to 2015 (sorry I’m a nerd), when I left my home in Richmond to move to Charlottesville, VA. I quickly fell in love with it. It’s faster paced then Richmond, but still has that laid-back feel underneath the rush. Its home to the gorgeous University of Virginia (Go Hoos!), and its nestled super close to Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway! The small college town feel was so perfect for me. And the fact that I live so close to the mountains, meant I could indulge my love of hiking all while living in a small city! Perfect!
So I went from the Big Apple to a place filled with Orchards. Don’t get me wrong! I love Charlottesville with its rolling hills and beautiful mountains! It’s quaint, and the people are wonderful. But it really isn’t the same as my favorite concrete jungle. I think a part of my heart will always belong to that bustling city and especially to New Jersey. You can take the Jersey girl out of Jersey, but she will always be a Jersey girl. What can I say? It’s in my blood.