I love living in New Jersey, and I have put down my roots here. However, we do have the world's greatest city just a few train stops away.
I served on the Flemington Borough Council for 12 years, so I have become intimately aware of the multitude of financial problems that confront New Jersey towns everyday. While I do not have any childhood memories of going to The Shore [however, I do have my own memories of going to Coney Island and Brighton Beach, where we could see the Jersey Shore in the distance], and I did not 'get' the whole Bruce Springsteen until fairly recently [after "The Rising" and the We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions] ---I do consider myself firmly a New Jersey resident.
This week I experienced two things that surprised me: two lifelong Jersey residents who never go in to New York. One friend said she has lived in Manalapan her entire life and the last time she was in the Big Apple was she was ten. Ten---for her that when the Mets won their first World Series. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon. That's a long time to be a train ride away from the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and United Nations without visiting. At least send a card. She said she was a self declared 'hick', proud of it, and never looked back.
The other friend asked me about taking his daughter to Times Square to go the Hershey store, Toys R Us, and the M & M store. He asked me 'where Times Square was', what subway to take, and how far a walk the various locations may be. "Should I take the subway?" "What subway should I take from Penn Station?" "Should I take the Shuttle?" were some questions. "Yes, the D,B, or N" and "No, the Shuttle goes to the Eastside from 42nd Street" were my answers.
Now, I don't have a four year old who will be thrilled to go to the Hershey store, Toys R Us, and the M & M store. And I would rather take a trip to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and United Nations ----but that's me.
However, I was very inspired by a father looking to take his daughter to Times Square. Families having a reason to go to Times Square. Imagine that. That never would have ocurred thirty years ago.
So, I am hopeful that what begins with the Hershey store, Toys R Us, and the M & M store will evolve in to seeing Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and United Nations.
It's spring, and we can always hope.