Why “Jerseyless”? Because I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I don’t live there anymore. And I’m proud to be from a state where being from there means something. A “Jersey Girl” means something. Across this fine nation, “Jersey Girl” evokes an image, an attitude, a certain something, that being from say…New Mexico does not. Nothing against New Mexico. I hear it’s lovely.
Though I’d argue being from Jersey is much more about attitude and not about the visuals. (as an aside: Fuck you Jersey Shore for being the biggest black mark on Jerseyness. You suck more than the Super Fund sites). OK, now for the attitude.
Where does it come from? It comes from the fact that we’re nestled all cozy-like between Philadelphia and New York City. Actually, it’s more like being the youngest child forced to sit on the hump in the middle of two older siblings in the back of the station wagon. It’s uncomfortable, and you’re always getting elbowed.
Philly and NYC are places that are iconic, full of history, full of pride and evoke some awe. If you’re from there, you can be boastful. You’ve got the sky scrapers and the sports teams and the movie locations. Jersey get’s the shaft.
So, growing up in Jersey means you grow a little chip on your shoulder. In response to the innocent question of ‘where are you from’ comes, “Jersey. You got a problem with that?” If we don’t say it out loud, we’re totally thinking it. We’re waiting for you to flinch, make the snide remark. Disrespect us, as we’ve always felt disrespected growing up. The only reprieve was when The Sopranos aired, and when I replied “Jersey”, people gave me a little space. It was hilarious. Thank you HBO for being our state’s official “body guard”.
So, go visit the land of Springsteen, Washington’s crossing, diners, and malls. Visit the protected salt marshes, dunes, forests and farms. Get your history on, or your shopping on (no sales tax on clothes!). Do yourself a favor and go in with an open mind, and if you’re lucky, you’ll leave with a little chip on your shoulder.