On Life in New Jersey, Honestly

Friday, September 7, 2012

The impression that I get every
time I talk to anyone here
New Jersey is really taking its toll on me.

I haven't written about it here because although I value sarcasm & wit, I do not value moping or whining, & I fear I'll cross the line if I get to talking about it on here. But this is my space, right? And these are my emotions. And why not just get 'em out? Better out than in, they tell me, whomever they are.

I know what you're probably thinking ("But Kate, you didn't like New Hampshire when you first moved there, either!") & you're at least partially right. There's a key difference, though, between then & now. In Portsmouth, my frustration was at being alone all the time, not at hating the place. I always thought it was nice there, even when I didn't like being there.

In New Hampshire, at least, I could go downtown alone with my laptop & be like, "At least it's pretty & quaint here. Being alone is OK!" I'd park myself at the Starbucks on the square, watching people congregate on the town square outside or at the church across the street. I'd have a flatbread for lunch at Popovers, giving directions to Canadian tourists who spotted my laptop & assumed I was a local. After work, I'd wander in & out of the independent shops downtown, into the pretty paperie & the used record store. Alone? Always. Lonely? Sometimes. Oftentimes. But the setting for my loneliness was enjoyable enough that it eased that pain.

In Red Bank, I'm alone and I hate it here. This place has no character. It's dirty, & the people are rude. And it has no business being as expensive as it is for as crappy as it is. I come to downtown Red Bank & I'm like, "WHY ARE THERE TWO FLIES SITTING ON MY ARM IN THIS COFFEE SHOP & A WOMAN WITH A REAL HOUSEWIVES ACCENT SCREAMING NEXT TO ME?!" The Starbucks downtown is small & dingy with rude employees & no comfy window seats. I'm terrified to drive here because the highways are jam-packed & generally scary, & because I'm always lost, even with my GPS. I've heard that New Englanders are notoriously cold, but New Jersey is definitely winning this contest.

I have Nathan, yes. And thank God for that. But it's not healthy to have no life beyond your significant other, & I'm not a person who would ever choose such a lack of social life for myself. I like being alone, yes, & I value my time to myself. But being alone is so, so different from being lonely - which is what I have become here, in New Jersey. What I wouldn't give for just one girlfriend to watch the season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy" with, for a weekend party crowded into a friend's not-quite-big-enough apartment, for somebody to meet downtown for lunch in the middle of the workday. And if I can't have those, what I wouldn't give to at least enjoy my surroundings alone, to feel comfortable & quiet & just OK.

Instead, I am unbearably sad & lonely & angry & tearing up in this crappy Starbucks.

New Jersey is beating the shit out of me.

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