“Home is where the heart is.”
We moved to the Garden State in June 2001. Those were heady times — N and I had both just gotten jobs, dispelling all doubts we had during grad school that we’ll forever remain unemployed. And our workplaces were located within 80 miles of each other. Way too far, you think? Considering that we had been living more than 1000 miles apart for a year and meeting only once every three weeks, this was major lifestyle improvement!
N started work a few weeks before me and had this cushy little furnished apartment for temporary housing to tide him over before we found our own place. For grad students that had previously owned a $5 couch and similar big ticket items, we suddenly found ourselves in the lap of luxury. So me and R, a friend of ours from undergrad (who was also working in NJ at that time) would descend on N’s apartment every friday evening. After hitting Oak Tree Road – that Indian food heaven – for brunch every saturday morning, we would while away the afternoons watching tamil movies. Hmmm… blissful, simple times. One fine day in early June 2001, we moved into our little two bedroom apartment. I remember that I stood at the entrance of the apartment and N stood in the master bedroom and I called out to him. My voice echoed around in the empty apartment and we exclaimed to each other about how huge our 800-sq ft apartment was.
Still, I had my issues with our new digs. I thought that the town we moved into was the boonies — waaaay too much farmland, I complained, city girl that I was. N has always been more into nature than me. He thoroughly enjoyed the greenery, and while driving past the fields at night, he would point out to me pretty fireflies glowing like lanterns in the dark. I was not convinced. I would be afraid of driving alone in this town at night, I grumbled. Not knowing that, within three years, we would be proud owners of a home that would be built on those very farmlands. And that all those farmlands would be a distant memory as I negotiated newly constructed one-way streets and jughandles to get to places within town.
Jughandles – my other pet peeve when we moved to NJ. NJ has got to be the only state (well, the only one that I know of) – where a left turn is not a direct left turn but a right turn around a “jughandle” to eventually make the left that you wanted to in the first place (lost you, didn’t I?). What a concept!! I couldn’t believe the ridiculousness of it at first. And I had a tough time explaining it to our equally incredulous first time visitors.
11 years later – Other than the alarmingly numerous gray hairs on our heads that I choose not to think about, the passage of time in our lives is marked by
- Two little munchkins
- One home built (the first munchkin at age 2 running around the aforementioned 800 sq ft palace – and banging into its walls – led us to realize that perhaps it wasn’t quite the mansion we had first imagined it to be)
- Trees that we (ok, N) planted in our yard that are now way taller than us
- One SUV that screams “kids in the family”
- Numerous road trips that have progressively become easier – obviously, we are not stopping every half hour to nurse or diaper the baby anymore (not that that ever stopped us from taking those trips)
- Our town’s new “village center” that we can walk to (tata to more corn fields and farms) – with it’s little coffee shop, bakery, library, gym (although – we don’t particularly care much about that one), fountains, and cool make-your-own yogurt place
Most importantly, I am now a well-adjusted Jersey girl. An adept jug-handler (is that a word?), I am now always on the right lane whether I want to turn right or left. It surprises the heck out of me if a road offers a direct left turn – gets me wondering if this is some kind of trick? Maybe a cop waiting for me around the corner saying “gotcha”?
11 years. The longest that I have lived in any one place since my childhood days in India. And I can’t think of another place that I’d rather call home. 🙂