This is something I’ve been thinking about writing for ten years. I don’t give a fuck about messing or not messing with Texas. I’d be ok if you went ahead and fenced up your whole state. New Hampshire can live free or die – not sure if I care. Virginia, you’re great, lived there for eight years, but go ahead and keep your lovers. And yes, Florida, you are the penis of America…
When it comes to state pride, I am an out and proud Jersey girl – born and raised in the Garden State. Yes, that’s right – Garden State, like cranberries, tomatoes, peaches and corn that will put New England, California, Florida and Georgia all to shame.
I don’t god damn know what exit I’m from because I’m from the Garden State – the part that grows things. It isn’t near any stupid turnpike, it’s in farm land. The Jersey Devil lives in the Pine Barrens next door, and I’ll sick his ass on you, so don’t fuck with me!
For that matter, it also isn’t near any fucking smoke stacks or industrial wasteland – that’s North Jersey. The Garden State is South Jersey. Yeah, I went there North Jersey!
People, especially out west, have a hard time wrapping their brain around this North-South Jersey thing considering only Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island are smaller in terms of land mass (and P.S. New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts are all bigger!). But New Jersey has the densest population in the country – more than 1,200 people per square mile, and they all have lots of opinions and aren’t afraid to tell you (ahem, case in point).
One of those many opinions is about their extremely intense alliance to either North or South Jersey. I’ve always said they should draw a line through the middle at the state capital, Trenton – north of that goes to NYC and south goes to Philly. I’m fierce about being from South Jersey, but against any outsider, me and the North Jerseyan are taking you down. I’m getting side tracked…but North Jersey, I got you.
I’m fierce about being from South Jersey because that’s why it’s called the Garden State (it ain’t that industrial waste). I grew up picking my own pumpkins, strawberries and apples, and no one believes me. I’m really tired of the turnpike thing, the scrunchy, dismissive faces, and the snide comments about our agricultural prowess.
The most grief I get is about New Jersey tomatoes. They are actually the state vegetable (yes, I know they are technically a fruit, and so are avocados and a zillion other miscategorized plants). My first job at 16 was at a family-owned farm market and bakery. They still take those amazingly sweet, juicy summer tomatoes and make a savory pie from them layering cheddar cheese, mayo and Italian herbs – then baked until melty and golden. The Jersey Tomato Pie.
I don’t really believe in callings, but telling the world about South Jersey – the Garden State part – is definitely one of mine. Go to Chatsworth for the annual cranberry festival – the third largest harvest of cranberries in the US. Stop off at any South Jersey farmer’s stand for the sweetest silver queen corn you ever did taste. Pick-your-own pumpkins, apples, blueberries. And those tomatoes – 8th largest producer in the country – that’s with being the 4th smallest state and being saddled with North Jersey!