Did I tell you about the time I spent five weeks in Hackensack NJ? No… Hum, perhaps I blocked it out of my memory. No just kidding, well maybe not sorta.
Let me just say a few things about spending five weeks in NJ…. wait, let me give that a little more structure. Let me say just a few things about spending five weeks in NJ in the middle of winter…and remembering what they use to tell us at Girl Scout Camp… “if you can’t say something nice..etc”…
1. Snow. Way too much of it..for my taste that is. Thank goodness they know how to drive around in it, unlike those of us from south of the Mason Dixon line, or nothing would ever get done up there for weeks on end.
2. And speaking of driving…I now have a deeper understanding of why our seasonal Snow-Birds drive the way that they do…Self Preservation. This whole thing that they do, all turns being made from the right hand lane… well, it’s true. I don’t know who designed their roadways, but there must be something really mind altering in the water..or the designer is a distant relative of Salvador Dali…
3. Little family owned Italian and/or Spanish Restaurants… Oh My God. I shall never look at Olive Garden/Carrabbas again without shaking my head at the mockery of it all, now that I have seen The Real Deal I understand the meaning of “knowledge is power” . The fresh bread brought warm to the table, the first bite a crunch then the savory chewiness and the deep rich aroma of yeast…. then there are the olive oils – dark green emulsions for dipping, with freshly ground black pepper or finely chopped oregano leaves or lightly browned garlic bits. Swoon time. And the family sized appetizer trays loaded with softly sauteed shrimp scampi, clams casino with lightly toasted bread crumbs for a touch of bite and crispy battered calamari with homemade marinara dipping sauce – and another platter of fresh rigati pasta lightly coated with more of the marinara then dusted with fresh Parmesan. Who needs entrees. ” We do… We do”… we all shout…Flavorful veal scaloppini with a finesse of fresh parsley or baked and stuffed Maine Lobster, or bowls of fresh bow tie pasta with chunks of onions, fresh tomato and Italian Sausage, and again from our waiter, who dancing in a table-side performance applies an ample amount of fresh ground Parmesan with a twist of his wrist, a personal flourish. Bravo, Bravo… Tip him more than 20% was the cry from the table. These people Know how to eat…..
4. Christmas decorations….Every house had um up….. and not in a small way either. They were gaudy, bright, lively and beautiful. Twinkle lights, fat colorful bulbs and hanging strands of faux white icicles hung from eaves, trees and fence tops. Big green wreaths adorned almost every door and the bigger the red bow the better, so it seemed. From the colorful Santa’s with their sleighs, to the cheerful over inflated Frosty the Snowmen, there was definitely celebration in the air. The solemn nativity scenes in practically every front yard left no doubt either as to what the real celebration was all about. Wrapping it all in layers of white, made the neighborhoods true wonderlands through which one could slowly drive all the while oohing and ahhing..
5. An opportunity to refill one’s soul with pride in one’s country cannot be missed either. To share that experience with my son and the hundreds other folks willing to brave the cold winds and choppy waters was more than worth the entire trip. Words cannot describe and I won’t attempt to here by any means. Suffice to say despite all the problems that we face, I would not want to be living in any other country but ours.
6. I could go on about the friendly people I got to know, co-workers which have been added to my road family. It is always a joy to find folks with the same sense of humor, stoic outlook on life and an ability to go with the flow of things, even when sometime the going gets a little tentative. The whole “lets not sweat the small stuff” can turn a crap day into a copacetic one, of course having the attitude of “what goes round comes round” helps as well.
7. So I guess the bottom line is the big question, “would you go back”. Well there is a lot I didn’t get to see, restaurants at which I didn’t dine, museums still unexplored, solemn locations like the WTC site where I wished to pay my respects, .. so yes… I’ll go back… just please… Let it not be in the middle of Winter…..