I am not a New Jersey native. I am a transplant to the mid-Atlantic region, via Nebraska, Tennessee, and starting this journey in California. I've always been comfortable with this seemingly shiftless pattern of my life and I love the fact that I have lived in different places.
Perhaps because I've had to grow comfortable in a new place, I look at my surroundings with an eye toward seeing and appreciating the differences and then planting my roots. I admire that which seems foreign or exotic about a new place, even well after that place has become my own. As long as I live in New Jersey, things like the turnpike, jug handle turns, and traffic circles will amuse me. My Jersey friends order a pie when I order a pizza. Folks around here go food shopping when I go grocery shopping. I love those differences.
And after a while the things that I love about my new place to live become a part of me. When I eat Mexican food, I am reminded of what I love about California. Never has a springtime passed since I moved to Tennessee nearly 20 years ago that I don't admire the plush beauty of the vivid colors in April. From my years in the midwest, I have an appreciation of the quiet hush of a deep snow. In New Jersey I like the woods and the water and I love the way the state is made up of many small towns all linked together but with patterns and habits of their own. And who doesn't love the abundance of Dunkin' Donuts in this state?
My son was two when we moved to New Jersey and for all intents and purposes, he is a native of the Garden State. I like that his roots are here but that he will always have a toe in the worlds that once were mine. Is there anything finer than the sound of my Jersey boy saying y'all? I am raising him to appreciate this place where he is rooted. I want him to love the idiosyncrasies of this state we call home. And I also want him to know that he can pack up and transplant himself to a new place, where he will plant his new roots to spread deep and wide even as he cultivates the old ones.