humor

#NeverInNewJersey

After spending the better part of my 37 27 years in New Jersey, not far from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, I moved to Bend, Oregon last June. I was pretty sure I’d completed my Oregon transformation by the time I embarked on my first backpacking trip in September.

Socks with sandals. Need I say more?

Then I had to buy a Subaru.

Annnnd NOW the transformation is complete.

One of the most fascinating things about moving across the country has been observing the utter lack of jadedness among my new neighbors. And how, in a town of over 100,000, EVERYONE KNOWS EACH OTHER. I find myself constantly sending the New Jersey crew texts like, “I don’t remember what a car horn sounds like,” and, “Someone just BOUGHT MY GROCERIES,” and, “[Sara] and I just realized we went out with the same guy.”

Which is why I now hide in my apartment and make YouTube videos.

In fact, this happens so regularly that I’m about to fill an entire blog post with examples FROM THE PAST WEEK ALONE.

(Shout out to Rainbow Cloudjumper, who came up with this priceless new hashtag. )

He plucks his ideas from starlit skies whilst soaring through the air on magic and moonbeams.

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT A

While in line at Starbucks (you can take the girl outta Jersey, but you can’t take the crippling addiction to overpriced lattes outta the girl), this happened:

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME (holding out giant reusable cup): Hi, is there any chance I can get some water in this? I can pay you.

BARISTA: Of course! I’m so sorry you had to wait in line just for water. We never charge for that.

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME: I insist. I really, really appreciate it.

BARISTA (handing her the now-filled cup): It’s no problem at all!

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME: Can I at least tip you?

BARISTA: We don’t accept tips, but that’s so nice of you.

WOMAN IN FRONT OF ME (waving a $20 bill): Please, I want to.

BARISTA (taking bill): Uh, well, okay, thank you so much.

ME (silently): How the f@&*% do I follow that?

Perhaps you’d like a copy of my new calendar, barista? (It’ll only cost you $20. Hey! Look at that!)

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT B

This snowman:

Built right in front of my door, for me, by my new 9-year-old neighbor with whom I’ve exchanged three words. Because love and puppies and rainbows.

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT C

I had two girlfriends over for dinner the other night. Within five minutes, this:

GIRLFRIEND #1: Where do you live?

GIRLFRIEND #2: I live in [blah blah] neighborhood.

GIRLFRIEND #1: Oh! One of my really good friends lives there! She said there’s lots of neighborhood drama. Do you know the crazy lady who won’t let anyone park in front of her house?

GIRLFRIEND #2: I *am* the crazy lady.

Uh, hey! Everyone! Look over here! Uncle Jesse has a new toy! Cool, right? …Right?

#NEVERINNEWJERSEY EXHIBIT D

Every month, friends host a vegan potluck at the Environmental Center. It’s basically a #NeverInNJ free-for-all. This month:

(MY FRIEND) STEFANIE (to a new woman we’d never met): Hi, I’m Stefanie.

NEW WOMAN: Hi, I’m [New Woman]. Isn’t Bend amazing? Someone just gave me four snow tires for free! Hey, want to go snowshoeing tomorrow?

STEFANIE: Sure!

ME: You can borrow my Sno-Park pass!

Central Oregon: Where Even the Snow is Nicer!

Honestly, I could keep going, but my alarm just went off. That must mean it’s time to go compliment someone.

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humor

Letting Your Guard Rails Down

Go Jules Go Title Graphic Letting Your Guard Rails Down_13NOV2019

Not as nice as Bend, not as nice as Bend…

Sights whirred past as I tried my damndest not to go over 80 MPH. A giant, snow-capped mountain greeted me in the distance.

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Not bad. Not as nice as the Cascades…

When I reached my destination, the little mountain town of Mt. Shasta, California, I parked the car and let Uncle Jesse stretch his legs.

Every passerby -not that there were many- smiled and said hello. While my new home in Bend, Oregon seemed to have ruined me for any other town, there was one consistent theme along the west coast thus far.

The people.

Also the hats. A lot of hats out here.

“I’m Georgie, by the way!” the adorable receptionist-slash-barista said as she extended a slender hand. By now I was checking out of my hip Mt. Shasta motel and we’d spent the past ten minutes chit-chatting.

“If you and your husband are ever in Bend, you have my name and I have a second bedroom!” I said as I waved goodbye.

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Assuming you don’t mind sharing a bed.

Earlier in the week, I had decided to tick a few more west coast cities off my bucket list, and was pleasantly surprised when I found I could greet strangers like old friends as I wound my way from central Oregon to northern California. This whole…trusting…thing was kinda…nice.

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Almost as nice as the tap water.

During a recent trip back to New Jersey, my home state, I was startled to realize just how far I’d already let my guard down. After only four months in Bend, I’d forgotten how to avoid eye contact. To jump to the worst possible conclusion. To regard every kind act with suspicion.

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Oh, the landlord planted flowers? OVER WHOSE DEAD BODY?

I used to wear my cynicism, like most east coasters, as a badge of honor. You’re handing me a flier? Asking me how my day is? Hah! Go scratch, pal! I’ve got things to do! Places to be! Scowls to perfect!

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Vodka to drink!

But after just one week in Bend, I’d made a dozen friends and felt the reassuring hand of something I never knew I’d been missing: Community. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid to ask for -or offer- help. A ride to the airport, some extra boxes, paint supplies, you name it. My new hometown’s selfless generosity was infectious.

Here I am getting free metalsmithing lessons from the one and only Jim Dailing!

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Oh! And here’s a recent haul of free groceries from friends who just streamlined their diet! (Not pictured: The free wine some other friends dropped off just days before. …Yes, my reputation as the unhealthiest most fun vegan in Oregon precedes me.)

And sure, you’re gonna have to steal my sarcasm and pizza standards from my cold, dead hands (which I hope are buried under some beautiful flowers), but this whole neighborly love thing?

Bring it on.

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Did you grow up in a don’t-make-eye-contact kind of environment, or a here’s-a-cup-of-sugar-you-didn’t-even-ask for place? Do you prefer one over the other?

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