I love New Jersey. Obviously. I love being close to the beach and the mountains and farmland and authentic ethnic food (from every ethnicity!) and especially to New York City. I love having everything I could ever need practically within walking distance (and most within actual walking distance). I never thought I would ever consider leaving here. It's home, and has been for my whole life.
The older I get, the more I reconsider my whole "Born Jersey, Live Jersey, Die Jersey" motto. Maybe it has come with the extensive travel I have done...but then, I have been seeing the world since I was 21. Maybe it's all the traffic...but then, I've been in one long continuous traffic jam since I learned to drive. Maybe it's all the people and noise...but then, when I'm in quiet places I can't sleep.
The truth is, I think I can handle all of those things individually. It's more that cumulatively, over the past X number of years, it is getting to me. I would love to experience my 7-mile commute to work not taking 45 minutes. It would be great to go to Shop Rite and not have to hit people with my cart and then stand on line for 30 minutes. How awesome would I feel to not have noise and light pollution present at all times?
About a year ago, we went out to Denver. We stayed a few nights in the city and then head to the Rocky Mountains. I was sure I would hate it because I hate nature and all that comes with it...and because my husband convinced me to stay in a cabin. But I didn't hate it, especially the cabin. It was small, but had a really nice kitchen, fireplace, flat screen tv, WiFi, king size Sleep Number bed, jacuzzi, waterfall shower...so all the things my luxury loving side could want. But it was quiet. It was in the woods (but still a quick drive to civilization). There was a babbling brook near it, and that was the only sound we could hear (other than the male elk bellowing to his ladyfriends that he was in the mood for some lovin'). And I really liked it. I liked being slightly disconnected - quiet, calmed, peaceful.
Last month we went to Asheville. We stayed in a quite remote cabin this time - higher luxury with more distance. It was 45 minutes to civilization. This was really hard for me at first. It was so quiet, I had to listen to myself think. When I stood on the deck and looked out, all I saw were trees and distant mountains. My first thought (especially after seeing the spider that had taken up residence with us) was to get the hell out of there. I wanted to head directly to the closest Four Seasons and call it a day. But I tried to let loose. This is something I am actively working on during my travels - stopping my brain from being 10 steps ahead of me and just enjoying and acknowledging the moment I am in. And that's what I did (after our friendly neighborhood spider man had been kicked to the curb). I sat in the moment and listened to the quiet. I looked at the views and I took it all in, and I realized that I enjoyed it quite a bit. Some of my best memories of that trip are of the time we spent in the cabin - cuddled under blankets by the fire watching a movie, standing on the deck looking at those views without saying a word, really just taking it all in.
Due to my husband's job, we aren't going anywhere for at least 10 years. By then, TJK will be in college and we will have some options. I have no idea what we will do or where will go or if we will go at all. But for the first time in my life I am contemplating going somewhere that I can hibernate. Well, at least part of the time. Because you know I am not giving up my dinners out or brewery visits or shopping trips or Sundays at the diner or real pizza and bagels...and there's the Jersey Girl in me, coming out once again.