Remembering The Garden State
For no reason at all, I found myself thinking about New Jersey tonight. When you find a home, no matter where it is or what stigma it comes with, it is not often easy to remove it from your thoughts. This seems prescient to me, in light of my current personal life. I never expected to fall in love with New Jersey. I’ve never expected to fall in love with anyone, really, but New Jersey came as a bigger surprise.
I’ve loved women in my life. They’ve all been different and equally fascinating. They have all captivated my attention and for periods of time allowed themselves play as my muse. A son of California, I have never felt wanting for splendor or inspiration. Every time I would fall in love it came as a shock, that there was even more beauty than what I was already living.
At eighteen, the world still seems limitless. This feeling of grandeur and adventure is as much a product of the end of adolescence as it is the gnawing reality of having spent your life in one place. There is that desire, that need to explore and break free the bonds of childhood. Some people are able to do it nearby. I chose to go to New Jersey.
Perhaps since I have been in back in California for almost four years, my memories of the Garden State are colored by the rosy shade of reminiscence. Still, as I look back on five years of my life that were fraught with same the coming-of-age calamities and heartbreaks that everyone endures, I can’t help but only remember the good things. Leaves changing from green to brilliant hues of yellow, red and orange. The constant clatter, the speed with which everything moves, always late, always in a hurry. The blunt pride of the natives, scoffing at the rest of nation’s collective disdain. The chill air in November as the trees become bare.
These are the things I remember. It is not a conscious choice but rather the inevitable result of finding a home. Whenever a lost soul finds peace I think that a part of him must stay, no matter how long he passes through or where he goes next. I will always consider California my home. I was raised here and have become an adult here. And yet I still long for New Jersey and the life that no longer exists there.
Love is a transient. It sweeps us from whence we least expect it and carries us to whatever destination it has in mind. As alone as I may be now I can draw upon that love and make it mine again. Such is the case with New Jersey. Recollections of the Garden State Parkway. The heavy trees of the Pine Barrens pointing the way to the sea. The lights of Atlantic City at its southern end and the skyline of New York to the north. It is as beautiful as any of the women I have loved. These are the things I remember.