Being from Jersey means never having to say you’re sorry.

When a guy I was dating once asked me what I liked doing more than anything in the world, I blurted out before thinking: “Getting out of Jersey.”

I thought back to that moment this weekend. I was at a bar in Boston, dancing with Indiana Jones. My white boa that went along with my flapper outfit wrapped around my dance partner’s shoulders as we swayed to the beat. He pulled me close. I was having fun! Twirling around! Laughing, singing, flirting. Not hurting a fly.

Until, that is, the bouncer tapped me on the shoulder.

“You’re gonna need to tone it down, miss,” he said in a booming voice.

I looked around, honestly perplexed. Was this 6ft 5, 270lb man talking to me?? What was I doing that was so wrong that I needed to be told to “tone it down?” What did that even mean anyway?

The rest of the night was entertaining enough, but it made me realize just how much Jersey is in this girl. I used to deny my accent, my habit of using too much hairspray, my secret desire to be tan in the dead of winter. But I can not do it anymore. I can’t deny that I’m madly in love with my home. The armpit of the US, if you will. The place where you can dance on bars without getting dollar bills shoved in your face. The state where, no matter where you are, you are within 20 minutes of a shopping mall at all times.

I love you, New Jersey. I’m sorry that I always say I want to leave. That I can’t see myself living here for the rest of my life. That I’d see that as a type of failure. You know me better than that. Just when you see that I’m at my wits end with you, you have a way of pulling me back in. Sometimes you can be harsh and mean and indifferent. But, other times, you can be pretty and warm and welcoming. You have the beach and the mountains, the lakes and the forests. You’re in my blood. No matter how much I sometimes wish you weren’t, you’re part of me.

And, wherever I end up in life, I’ll be part of you, too.

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