When people ask me where I’m from, I slightly roll my eyes and murmur “New Jersey.”
“Oh…..I’ve driven past there on the turnpike.”
End of conversation.
Living in this mixing bowl mecca of Washington DC, I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the planet…..gorgeous places, rich with culture like Morocco. Panama. Nigeria. Kazakstan. So when I tell people where I am from, I never reveal the location with pride. I am proud of what Trenton has accomplished in the past but lately, with all of this selfish behavior and embarrassing actions from our Mayor and Governor. I am not proud to call Trenton…or New Jersey home.
TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES glows proudly over the Delaware River. The relic brings a smile to my face each time I see it because it reminds me of what I used to think about Trenton. I listen to my father reminisce about the “good ole times” he had back in the 70s….the factories he used to work in (which are now vacant and abandoned)…..the booming industrial and manufacturing years….when Trenton was a major manufacturing city. Today, you can’t go a few minutes on any highway, road and not see vacant and abandoned buildings and warehouses. There are hundreds and it definitely tugs at my heartstrings when it has been that way for decades.
Trenton toughened me up and opened my eyes. Together, we weathered extremely cold winters and humid, hot summers. You taught me to fully appreciate pork roll, freshly baked bagels and hoagies. You reminded me to keep my doors locked, at all times. You reminded me that although you can live on the same street as your best friend , you can still live in 2 different townships. You proved that delicatessens belong on every corner. You showed me that there is nothing cooler than going to Halo Farms (and this still excites me at the age of 30). You taught me to embrace the cultural differences of my neighbors. Although I lived in the North and its a Southern thing, you demonstrated that a simple hello can be the beginning of a lifelong friendship. You taught me how to appreciate rowhouses and basements. You showed me gorgeous, rolling hills and the gritty streets. You proved to me that nothing beats a Parkway Pizza. You proved that no matter how dangerous the neighborhood is, the gang bangers and troublemakers always take the time to say hello to the elders sitting on the porch. You showed me the best of times and the worst of times. You are beautiful…in your own unique way.
So today…when someone asks me where I’m from….I am going to smile…and I will proudly reply ” I am from Trenton, New Jersey.” My birthplace…the city that helped mold me into the woman I am today….the place that still holds a very special place in my heart, no matter what.