The Beastie Boys' "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" recently got me thinking about my prior life in the NYC area. Strangely, my 2 years in Hoboken, NJ, was what came to mind, versus my 4 years actually in Brooklyn. Hoboken wasn't too bad -- it is a fairly safe, cute town with lots of restaurants and bars and an easy commute to Manhattan. But nothing could erase the reality of its location in the Garden State.
I used to go visit my aunt's family on Long Island pretty regularly, and when I lived in Hoboken, she would often introduce me as "my niece from New Jersey." It pained me deeply when she would say this, and I actually asked her to please stop telling people I was "from New Jersey."
After I moved to Brooklyn (Borough of Kings), I cast aside all ties to New Jersey faster than you can say "What exit?" It was as if I'd never lived there. Wiped from my personal history. Meanwhile, my colleague Tim had just moved to Jersey City -- the nice part. At the time, the nice part was only a couple of blocks long. Tim was telling us one day about his weekend plans, which included a bachelor party, and, much to his chagrin, a ride on "The Beast," a giant, loud, garish motorboat for tourists with shark teeth painted on the front (photo at right). Jason remarked, "Tim, if you die on that boat, your obituary is going to say you died on The Beast." And, giddy with opportunity, I immediately followed up, "AND it will say you're from New Jersey!"
Truthfully, Jersey wasn't really that bad. I just didn't love Hoboken enough to stand up against the stereotypes. Hoboken doesn't have much character -- the birthplace of baseball has long since been overrun with young college graduates hitting the bar scene. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has a soul.