I’m going to change things up around here
Inspired by my beloved friend Lil Dee La Duchessa’s blog Bedstuy Social, I am going to quit with the pretension like I’m some “Metropolitan Observer” with her eyes all on the scene, her finger on the pulse of New York City, her life a fantasy of soft openings and organic markets and trunk shows and wine bars. You see, I live in New Jersey, mkay? There. I said it. I. Live. In. New. Jersey.
After reading one of Dee’s latest entries, I thought “this is really fricken stupid. This is so lame trying to pass this blog off as some sort of…” well, I don’t know what. See. No identity. I mean, it was a collection of things that passed through my field of vision and caught my attention. Not much more to it than that, kiddies.
But I LIVE in New Jersey. I have angst and wonder and surprise and not too infrequently, abject horror at the experience of residing in a state, had you asked me at 13, “So Lola, do you ever see yourself living in New Jersey?”, I would have turned on my vintage suede pump (yes, I did wear them then) and spat in your shadow. How humbling life can be.
I lived in New York City from 1990-2007. That’s 17 years, and that’s no small potatos, yet how quickly I began to feel somehow distant from a city that gave me, not just my identity in some way, but in many very real ways, has given me my life.
Recently I went to a dinner party at a friend’s house and there were several women from New Jersey there. One of my friends, a good old Jersey girl (with a collection of costume jewelry to match any color outfit in existence to prove it), said something about “oh, there’s a lot of girls from Jersey here,” and another Jersey girl began counting the ones she knew to be Jersey girls. I didn’t say a thing, neither did my boyfriend. Then a friend of ours, he lives in Brooklyn but knows no better, said “hey, what about Lola, she’s from Jersey!” and a dead silence fell on the room.
I was looking rather fashionable that night if I may say so myself. I thought my look was a little more Miami or maybe Bogota than New York that night (maybe I’ll blog on it another day but I’ve embraced my love of the occasional loud color, like yellow, orange, or even magenta, high heels, perfectly cut lighter wash jeans in warmer weather, and a certain way Latin American women put their outfits together. It’s sassy and fun; done wrong it can be a Charo nightmare, but in controlled dosages, it can be sexy and sophisticated).
So all eyes were on me, the silence grew heavy like rainclouds, until the loudest of the Jersey girls said incredulously “yuh frum Joisey?” My boyfriend spoke for me. “No, she’s a New Yorker. She just lives here.” I leaned back on my elbow, as I had assumed a very relaxed pose on a daybed (I’m not kidding), and smiled a Mona Lisa smile as I still said absolutely nothing.
Inside, I was a combination of relief and horror. “Thank GOD that conversation’s over. How could they even think for a second…Wait, could I be considered a Jersey girl? Do I look like them, or [no, unthinkable] talk like them? Wait, I just moved here, how could I possibly be getting lumped in with them when it’s time to do the Jersey shout-outs. What the hell is happening…” and then something broke my reverie. “Yah, I was wondering” said Ms. Joisey from before. “You don’t look it.”
And just like that, I was out of the crosshairs, out from underneath the microscope, back to being a blessed fly on the wall. And that folks, is rather how I like it, and probably how I will tough out my stay in the wilds of New Jersey until we either move back to 718 or (more likely), closer (within walking distance, please spare me the #10 or #68 bus…I can’t even go into it right now…) to a PATH train, at a stop that at least (at least!) has a Korean deli near it or a bar or someplace where, you know, I can get something other than Domino’s after 10pm.
So I am a New Yorker in exile now. I have to take some stance on my identity, because if I don’t, I may one day find myself on the #68 bus, immune to the dysfunctional circus it is, resigned to the patheticness of a mass transit system that still doesn’t have a card reader, and accepting that a 30 minute wait for the next bus is normal. I fully believe my stint in New Jersey, especially the neighborhood in which I live now, is temporary. I also fully believe that this blog will be a cathartic and therapuetic exercise, and may it spare my boyfriend from hearing (yet again) about how long it takes me (I can’t even disclose the number for fear of embarrasment) to get to work. And my stale blog, may it now newly breath, may it contain the true spirit of the blogosphere, which is to blog about what you know (or love, or hate, or all of the above), and most of all, so I can stop pretending that I don’t live in New Jersey. Because I do. Oooooh do I ever. So at the very least, I should get some material out of it. God knows the #68 bus deserves a blog of its own.