We’ve been friends for a while now, right? And friends shouldn’t keep secrets from friends. At least, not this sort of secret. I should trust that I can be honest and open with you and that you’ll accept me.
It’s not easy to admit certain things, even when there’s no denying them. I’ve danced around the issue, I’ve deflected, I’ve misdirected. But in the end, the only person it hurts is me.
Sigh. This is so difficult, and I’m very uncomfortable. So please bear with me.
As many of you know, I’ve written a lot about being a New Yorker.
Well, the truth is, I don’t live in New York. In fact, I haven’t lived there for a while. For the past seven years, I’ve lived across the Hudson River. In…New Jersey.
There. I said it. I live in New Jersey.
A few bloggers already knew my shameful secret and kindly kept mum about it. Although I was mocked by one of them, who shall be nameless (but I’m looking at you, Mike Allegra), for not fessing up and embracing my residence in the Garden State.
But seriously, I can’t. I can’t embrace my residence here. I don’t care that Manhattan is literally a mile across the river from my apartment. I don’t care that it’s only a half-hour trip into the city. I don’t care that I still get to enjoy all that NYC has to offer. It pains me to live so close and yet so far away.
It’s a testament to Mr. Weebles that I uprooted myself from my beloved Manhattan, where I had a tiny, rent-stabilized apartment in Soho, and moved across the Hudson to be with him.
When I told my friends that I was moving to New Jersey, they all said, “Seriously? YOU???” I was fond of saying that 9/11 hadn’t made me want to move, and fuck you, Al Qaeda, the only way I’d leave NY was in a body bag. But ultimately the deciding factor was money; decent-sized, conveniently located apartments were a LOT cheaper in NJ than in NY. So I sold my soul and relocated to the mainland. The day I moved out of my apartment, I felt as if I were saying goodbye to my soulmate. Fortunately, Mr. Weebles understands my plight. He once told someone, “Every morning that she wakes up in New Jersey, a little part of her dies.” He’s not wrong.
A few years ago we were on vacation and someone asked us where we were from. Mr. Weebles said, “We’re from New Jersey” and I almost had a shit hemorrhage. I might live there, but I’m not from there. See, here’s a map of where I’ve lived:
It’s not that I have a hatred of New Jersey. I don’t. But I was born and raised in NYC and when I was growing up, Jersey was “over there.” The only reason anyone went there was for concerts or football games at the Meadowlands. Otherwise, it was flyover country. Or drive-through country. I had greater knowledge of world geography than of Jersey geography. You could tell me, “I’m from Vladivostok” and I’d know where it was. But if you said, “I’m from Morris Plains,” I’d stare at you blankly. Where the hell is that?
I can’t shake that mindset. I can’t help it. It’s not my fault; New York has always been about attitude as well as geography. Saul Steinberg wasn’t kidding when he created this map:
So for those of you tuning in from New Jersey, don’t take offense, and don’t start with me. Because I know where you live. Or, you know, I could easily find out if I looked on a map.
NYC isn’t what it used to be. It’s not as vibrant or as gritty as it once was and it suffers from extreme gentrification—I lamented over this last year. But I love the noise and the energy and the pace and the diversity and the subways and the dirt. I love the tap water. I love that so many places are open 24 hours—the city truly never sleeps. And as much as I loathe crowds, I need to be around them. When I set foot on NY soil after my commute, I feel better. I’m happiest in my native habitat. It makes sense to me.
So now you know my deep dark secret. And if you make fun of me for it, I’ll fucking cut you.