In 1989, after I’d lived in the South for a month and a half, everyone sounded the same. Whether it was your first time off the mountain or you time travelled back from a Dell tech support job in 2006, you sounded generic to me, like a radio announcer from nowhere. I guess this was my way of coping when I found I couldn’t understand anybody and I had to look for a job and knowing what a bad combination that was.

Only in the last few years have I been able to pick up my native Northern accent, which has never left my voice, in others. I never lived in NY, but my father’s Brooklyn influence gives my Jersey accent a little edge.

I’ve found, after pissing a couple of people off, that it’s better to ask the person where she or he is originally from if you think you’ve found a homie. That’s because it’s never good to assume someone is from Jersey, because they might be from New York. If they then say they’re from New York and you say you’re from Jersey, that’s fine. That’s like discovering you’re cousins. But if you ask them if they’re from Jersey, that’s like if you ask if they’re your sibling from that hick family of cousins south of the Capital of the World.

And, growing up in Jersey when we did, we just accepted that secondary status. I’ll never forget the first time when, driving to work where I live now, the traffic report discussed the highway I was near. In Jersey, you simply dealt with the local roads as they unfolded before you while the radio went into detail about the backup on the Long Island Expressway. Just shut up and wait for the next song. No one cares about the fifteen car pile-up you will drive around while you hear it.

Last night after the ball dropped and Auld Lang Syne led into Frank telling me to start spreading the news, I knew I had to wait until my daughter had her diploma in her hand on January 20 to safely hand in my letter of resignation. But let me tell you, that volume was cranked and I was dancing, because I knew in a couple of months, my little town blues would be melting away. Sure, there will be many new challenges and adjustments, and I will miss a few people and the natural beauty of where I’ve tried to make my home the last 22 years, but I will not miss the social climate and mindset.

And I will know my place. I want a little land around me, and I am not sophisticated enough to be a New Yorker. I will always be scared to drive in the city, and hating that it’s hard to find a bathroom. But New York City is the most interesting place I know, and she will be only 45 minutes away.

Close enough to visit frequently, to keep our minds open, and to put good bread on the table.

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