For some reason I always end up in New Jersey.
Of all the places I've visited in the US, New Jersey is probably the grittiest. It's where pretty meets ugly, where hip and dingy are next-door neighbors.
Jersey City in particular, makes me stop and stare, and wonder why people would want to live there. It doesn't even have a bookstore! It's always hot and humid, not even the AC can keep out the humidity.
I had the most expensive BLT ever in Jersey City, in a small, totally nondescript coffee shop–it was $16. Yes, you read that right. 16$ for two slices of toast with some tomato, lettuce, and bacon smashed in between. I've had a better BLT in Manhattan, and it was only $12. And they served it on delicious challah bread with a veritable mountain of crisp bacon slices.
Who wouldn't want to live in that pretty brownstone?
Or find these treasures while exploring the neighborhood?
Or stand and stare at Manhattan from the promenade at J. Owen Grundy Park?
I go to New Jersey to see friends who live there. They keep telling me how they hate living in Jersey City or in Edison (and believe me; the drive from JC to Edison is mind-numbing. Those highways? Those highway exits? Who in the world designed this place???) and that they can't wait to move.
Of course I'll visit them wherever they go, but a tiny piece of my heart will stay in New Jersey.
Because it's so unique in its mix of dirt, beauty, great places, and dinginess where you least expect it.
New Jersey is for those who love the beauty of small things.