Mike and I at Sunset Mountain, NJ
Getting our marriage license in Highland Park, NJ
Mike and I “Down the Shore”, NJ
Miss Olive Oil found in East Orange, NJ
Telling my sister I was pregnant in our home of 30 years in Edison, NJ
Telling Laura, my oldest friend at her house, 4 houses down the street, that I was pregnant in Woodbrook Corners, NJ
My Dearest NJ, My Honeybee,
Let me start this letter by saying that it was only when I left you that I realized how much I truly loved you. Sometimes, we people, don’t know what we have until it is gone. You have been a good friend throughout the years, a constant in my life, a place I go to to feel myself, the one place I could truly call home. You have been the source of many good times in my life and years of memories and I am truly thankful to have you in my life.
I know what others have said about you and I want you to know that none of it phases me and it shouldn’t phase you either. For all of the amazing qualities you possess, how could those people not be jealous? Your light (bulb) has been seen for years, a light that without its presence would be impossible for the world to turn. Your tomatoes have long since been known all over the world as the best tomatoes you can find. Who would have thought that I would miss your shopping malls with seven big time malls in a 25 square mile radius or your dense system of highways, more than any other U.S. state? But I do. I know that the Jets and Giants have treated you poorly, calling themselves New Yorkers, when in fact their home is with you, but do not be upset with them. The flash of big lights and fame calls to all. And you have also long since had your own affair, with Mr. B. Springsteen. Yes, I know about that, and I forgive you.
What matters is that you and I know how valuable you are. You have romanticized people for years, opening the first Drive-In movie theater. Maybe next time, you might rethink the location of Camden though? Just a thought. You have shined your light atop the Thomas Edison Memorial Tower in Edison (woop! woop!) for all to see. You have fancied us with the first saltwater taffy, entertained us with the first recorded, official baseball game and given your Atlantic City names to Monopoly for hours of enjoyment. You have fed our souls with endless diners and world leading production of cranberries and blueberries. You are so beautiful, such a gem that so many have been proud to stand by you. Remember Robert Blake and Lauryn Hill and their way with words? Remember how Old Blue Eyes himself swooned at the thought of you? How about Jack Nicholson – how feisty and naughty he was? Didn’t Kelly Ripa or Joe Pesci make you laugh (be careful not to say they were funny like a clown)? Kirsten Dunst brought it on for you and Paul Simon loved your sound of silence. You have inspired us all in so many ways.
With all of these people who have loved you, I don’t know how you still have room in your arms for me. Little old me. Was it because you have watched me grow up? Was it because my fondest memories of being a child involved your schools, your parks, your shore (before “The Situation” made you a dirty word)? Thank you for the little space you have given me to call home.
I know that for now, we cannot be together. As much as I love you and care for you, I must find my way outside of the security of your roads. What is that saying about “loving something and setting it free?” (haha Jenny Mintz!) I must live free now, like the Goldfinch. But if you could keep your trails open for me, if you would allow me to return someday… I might. I was not born to run but for now, I must. I hope you love me anyway and understand , my dearest NJ, that you have been there through so many important moments in my life that I will never be able to repay you for. It was with you that two Cubans from opposite sides of the island met and gave me my whole childhood, high school stories, my oldest friend of over two decades, my steadfast and adoring husband, two loving companions (Jersey & Olive), ultimately my daughter, and most importantly, New Jersey, you gave me… attitude, a feeling of who I am; I am from Jersey. And anywehre in the world at anytime, when Jon Bon Jovi is heard singing “You Give Love a Bad Name,” I will forever pump this fist (again, before the cast of the Jersey Shore made it look hella stupid [thanks Beckett!]) and look around to see who else is a true New Jerseyan.
I am excited to see you in a week’s time and pray that I will find you as I left you… perfect.
Your devoted admirer,
My Wedding at Lake Owassa, NJ
Sunset Mountain, NJ
Old School pic of Laura, Brandie, and I “down the shore” NJ
Sunflower Field by Sparta, NJ
Sussex County Fair, NJ
Mike waterskiing at Lake Owassa, where we have spent alllll of our summers, NJ
Jersey playing in the snow, NJ
Just married in NewJersey!