None of these things would have happened in ye olde Garden State.
Thanks to Rainbow Cloudjumper, I even have the hashtag #NeverInNewJersey to complement this ongoing trend.
I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had an entirely new set of examples. (For examples A-D, click here!)
#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT E
This catalog, from Central Oregon Community College, landed in my mailbox the other day. I giggled as I scanned its front page offerings.
I can’t remember exactly, but I seem to recall my local New Jersey Community College brochure looking a little more like this:
#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT F
I recently went to a clothing/item exchange where a group of eight women all brought things from home that they no longer used or needed. When I arrived, I was shocked to find my friend’s living room transformed into a GoodWill-style shop. It was ridiculously impressive and I walked away with an entire bag full of quality wares. This isn’t even the #NeverInNewJersey part (though it certainly gets an honorable mention)!
As I was unpacking my spoils, I noticed a strange scent. Was that… could it be… cologne? One of the items I brought home was a lightweight running top that was likely menswear.
It was probably the faint remnants a pleasant, manly deodorant, but the point is, it stood out so drastically because: NO ONE HERE WEARS COLOGNE. I sat next to a guy at a film festival last week (benefiting the local environmental center and which required filmgoers to bring their own cup if they wanted anything to drink…#NeverInNewJersey honorable mention #2) and almost choked on his spicy aroma.
Coming from the land of gold chains and Axe body spray, I never thought I’d say this, but: I don’t miss it one bit.
#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT G
All you need to know to understand this final exhibit, a Facebook group chat, is that I now live in a town boasting a beautiful river and waterfront amphitheater.
Stay tuned – I’m sure it won’t be long before I run out of alphabet letters!
I instinctively lifted my foot off the gas pedal and gripped the steeling wheel. My car slid backwards as I stared in the rearview mirror, wondering when the pick-up truck behind me would realize what was happening. Before or after we collided?
I can’t believe this. I cannot believe this.
The truck narrowly missed me, charging up the steep hill while I reached a trembling hand toward my hazard lights. As if it was my poor, low-riding, two-wheel drive Acura’s fault for not being able to overcome central Oregon’s lack of snow management.
F$&@%. What am I going to do?
Over the coming days, I moved countless boxes over icy sidewalks, painted walls and ceilings that felt like sandpaper, and waited for my couch to arrive so I could collapse at the end of each long day in anything other than a cold, metal camp chair.
And my couch did arrive. …Three weeks later.
I also checked my inbox repeatedly for any updates on a job offer I’d accepted earlier in the month. By the second week of December, with the apartment still in partial chaos and no news on the job, I flew to New Jersey for my twin niece and nephew’s Sweet 16, a.k.a. A New Circle of Hell that Requires Its Own Blog Post.
Throughout the last few scattered and uncertain weeks, I kept myself sane by continuing my marathon training and French lessons, binge watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and creating the greatest calendar the world has ever known.
I also became an expert in cheap furniture assembly…
…learned how to paint ceilings in high heels…
…spent my first Christmas without my family…
…learned I can no longer party like it’s 1999…
…and attended my first drum circle, along with 66 other women.
Though life kept marching onward, a familiar soundtrack accompanied every moment. Am I doing the right thing? Will I like this new job? Is this really the proper place and time to spend all of my savings on furniture plant roots? Will I ever find TRUE love? Why is Uncle Jesse looking at me like that?
It seems I forgot to read the fine print on the “Live Your Dream Life!” manual.
Despite taking a series of ballsy actions over the past year (like quitting a steady corporate job, selling all of my stuff, and moving across the country), building my dream life has felt a bit like parasailing. You experience the thrill of soaring freely through the air, all the while still tethered to whatever beliefs, constraints, and values you had before. Crippling insecurities, societal expectations, questionable past decisions… they don’t go away the minute you decide to spread your wings.
Now, from the comfort of my new couch, Suba-Ruby sleeping soundly in the parking lot, I feel my pulse finally beginning to settle. Though the past six months have brought wave after wave of change, and though I cried at my friend’s Thanksgiving table when talking about having to sell my old car often think I might capsize beneath it all, I know I’m home. Because that boat I’m tethered to isn’t my shortcomings or my past or my fears – it’s my heart. No matter where I go, I can’t be anywhere BUT home.
What are you hoping 2020 will bring? (Psst, I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long. I’VE MISSED YOU EVERY DAY.)
I’m ticking one of the boxes next week, sans cell service, which means I won’t be putting up my usual Wednesday blog post, but I promise -PROMISE- the following post will make up for it. I mean it’s probably going to be the best thing I’ve ever written. Because it will involve your very favorite topics on this blog, based on the search term analytics that led you here: my suffering, sweating and -possibly- nudity.
Did you know that all you have to do to acquire THE BEST BEER KOOZIE (and deck of cards) EVER was drive 2,777 miles? Somewhere in the land of…well…LAND, I started to spot curious signs.
Forget your Exxon Mobil. Forget your BP gas. I bring to you…
Naturally, I couldn’t walk away from Kum & Go without a trinket or ten. And because I’m living the dream, I want to pay it forward. To you, dear reader.
ALL OF THIS CAN BE YOURS:
To enter, simply leave a comment describing your worst road trip (or other car) moment by 12 midnight PST (awww yeah, my first PST deadline!), Tuesday, July 2, 2019. The winner will be extremely subjectively chosen by whatever cute Oregonian is jogging (or stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking or mountain biking) by at that moment.
“Colorado Rocky Mountain hi-igh…” I belted at the top of my lungs, cranking up the volume. Sorry, Uncle Jesse, but this has to happen.
All right, so maybe I wasn’t actually driving through Colorado, but close-a-freaking-’nuff.
“I can’t believe you’re already in Wyoming!” Jenn texted.
“My ass can,” I fired back.
After leaving my home state, New Jersey, last Friday to embark on my very first (…and last?) cross-country road trip, I was starting to feel the burn. I was also starting to feel like I was living on borrowed time, having survived three extremely questionable roadside motels and one AirBNB in a town where Uncle Jesse and I bumped the population to 750 for the night.
Elmwood, Nebraska. …Wow, you’ve never heard of it. Huh. …What? No. I didn’t say anything. …Wait’ll Kristen at the post office hears about THIS.
As part of my latest Grand Caper -which involved quitting a very stable job and selling all of my stuff- I decided to move to central Oregon because I heard they had good beer and I still wouldn’t have to pump my own gas. Unfortunately, since they haven’t perfected teleportation and don’t ship Labradoodles who only drink ice water and hide in bathrooms because they’re scared of the dark, I was forced to drive myself.
Maybe if someone around here could pull his weight…
All in all, though, I’ve hit the jackpot. Sunny weather, friendly people, working car. I hit a few snags in Cheyenne, but my Maine road trip in April prepared me for all of that and more.
Things I’ve learned so far, having covered New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and (partially) Utah:
The (giant, giant) bugs on I-80 all have a death wish.
Some stereotypes are…well…
Gary, Indiana is NOT what The Music Man will have you believe.
You can fit way more into a 4-door sedan than you might think.
Photos of Cheyenne, Wyoming are invisible until an old-timey filter gets applied.
Three days on the road turns me into a person who wears socks with sandals.
The world is as big or small as you make it.
As I hit the scan button on my radio for the thousandth time and massage my neck, the same thought I’d been having for days pops back up: Holy sh*t. I’m DOING THIS. I’m DRIVING -AND MOVING!- ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I remember all of the winding roads that led me to this moment and laugh. Jiggling my right leg and checking my odometer, I suddenly feel like I earned every mile and every view.