(I’m currently working on a project that is a little different than my normal interviews. About a week ago, I sat down with two fellow authors in Raleigh, NC, and had an extended conversation about place — what it is, and how it figures in our writing. This week, I’m back in NJ, and the idea of place has come to the forefront. So, here are a few initial thoughts that will lead into the eventual video (once I edit it and all that good stuff.))
On returning home…
The bridge looms before me, all steel wires and sweeping girders, and I know that the moment has come. From the backseat, LauraJean has been serenading me with the inconsolable cries of a two-month-old far from home. Little does she know, and much do I hope, that someday this ritual will signal to her a sort of silent homecoming.
I fixed my iPhone with the music I need, and as my car approaches the night-shrouded spans, lit with the garish electric lights of passing vehicles, I hit PLAY. Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” floods the speakers, and even LJ pauses to listen as the opening power chords take us up and over.
And then I am flooded…
With the memory of road trips that never really “officially” began until we were up and over this bridge going the other way, “finally” out of Jersey.
With the memory of the time I was returning, posting my progress on social media, my sisters cheering my approach so enthusiastically that one of our friends was moved to mention how cool it was that we were so close.
With the memory of the time I forgot to load the Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen was just not a suitable substitute.
With the memory of my sister Jenn, a true Bon Jovi fan, and the mixed yet powerful emotions that arise every time I listen to “New Jersey” and miss her a little bit more.
With the memory of driving the highways that are both joke to outsiders and inside joke to NJ residents – The Turnpike, The Parkway, Route 3, Kinnelon, Mahwah, 287, Route 80, The Bridge, The Tunnel … the traffic …
And finally today, driving through the winding hills and roads of Sussex County on our way to Broad Street Books, to get that certain thrill of seeing your books on the “Local Author” bookshelf, and thinking if only I had the money, I would move back here in five minutes.
This place is home, and even as I travel to other places, and count myself as a Texas resident, as a North Carolinian, as an Army wife, as a southern author … I have been, am, and will always be a Jersey girl.
And so will LauraJean.