I was born and raised in the South, but I spent five years in New Jersey. Despite the fact that I learned most of life’s important lessons there (like how to drive — drivers down here are nightmarish), it was a low point in my life and I prefer not to talk about it.
I prefer not to talk about it for two reasons: 1) I spent far too long above the Mason Dixon Line and 2) I spent far too long above the Mason Dixon Line in New Jersey.
That’s not to say it was all bad. Instead of the mess of the concrete jungle you see when you land in Newark, I lived in farm country 45 minutes to the west in Hunterdon County, and I made one of my best friends in the world there.
But I’m glad to be gone nonetheless. I’m still friends with a lot of people from high school on Facebook, so I get my fill that way.
Lately, I can’t seem to get out from under countless articles about how great living in New Jersey is. My favorite so far: “Things People Miss Most About New Jersey When They Leave.” The author makes good points, but doesn’t realize that Charlotte offers the same things, but better.
The beaches. I’m sorry, have you been to the Outer Banks? Sure, it’s farther from Charlotte than the shore is from any part of Jersey, but we’ve got 200 miles of pristine beaches without having to worry about running into The Situation (which I did, once).
The primo location. “Cities, small towns, beaches, parks, mountains… Everything you could ever want is just a short drive away.” Hmm. Sounds a lot like my backyard.
The malls. Sure, New Jersey’s malls are nice, but SouthPark is, in my humble opinion, one of the nicest malls in North Carolina. And I can get there in 10 minutes using one road instead of having to fight interstate traffic for half an hour.
The charming downtowns. “Red Bank, Montclair, Clinton, Haddonfield, Cape May…they’re irreplaceable.” I know they don’t count as downtowns, but Uptown, Elizabeth, Dilworth, NoDa… they’re irreplaceable.
The food. “Pizza and bagels just aren’t the same anywhere else.” Try Brixx, Pizza Peel and Wolfman and let me know what you think. If you’re still not convinced, head to Poppy’s Bagels.
Gas station attendants. You’ve got me there. That’s a perk I miss.
The diners. Um, Midnight Diner on a Sunday afternoon makes for a perfectly greasy hangover brunch or an incredible late-night meal on any night of the week, thank you very much.
Wawa. For context: Wawa is a convenience station that doubles as a hangout when you’re too young to get into the bars or you don’t feel like driving 30 minutes to go to the movies. But Charlotte has 7-11 and 7-11 means Slurpees. Bam.
Taylor Ham/Pork Roll. Biscuits and gravy.
The weather. Yeah, I absolutely miss the mess of power outages, flooding and well water issues that came with the weather.
I think I’ll stick with being able to have my sunroof open in December.