How in the world did you end up in Princeton? This is the question I’ve been answering for the past 10+ years. It’s my own fault really, because I’ve lived in the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area for most of my life, and I swore to all of my friends I would NEVER live in New Jersey.
Working and living in the city was amazing, and I was very NY-centric. I know the New York Times subway fold, where to get great suits (before the downfall of business elegance and the rise of business causal in the suburbs), how to jay walk by weaving through cars and taxis (a sport), and how to hail a cab (another sport). Of course, New York is THE center of the universe, and because of this it attracts… TOURISTS. Really? Why are these people invading OUR space? Tourists call the avenue east of Seventh (except when Broadway gets crazy) the Avenue of the Americas, wear really colorful clothing, and flood Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Now I know why I love Madison! Whenever I went to Soho or The Village on a weekend, all I could see were Jersey plates. These must’ve been one of the first stops of their tour after exiting the Holland Tunnel. Pass ‘Go’ and return to Madison.
I then moved to the sleepy ‘burbs. But it was fine, because I was NORTH of the city in CT. They have beautiful rolling hills with winding country roads, horse farms, nice restaurants, great shopping, and the mostly reliable Metro-North to quickly get us into the city in just over a half hour. The Fairfield County coastline has beaches of the calm and polluted Long Island Sound. Greenwich and Westport shopping is great if I could find a parking space, and parking wasn’t a problem in Darien, because someone’s car was occasionally stolen from the train station parking lot, so I could just park there.
The novel The Stepford Wives was written about a fictional town in CT. Some say it’s based on life in Darien. Gee, is that why most stay-at-home trophy wives are blond, have three kids, an au-pair from South America, drive a Suburban, have a Golden Retriever and a hubby who works on Wall Street? Wait… maybe it’s based on Wilton, the town in which the author grew up. It doesn’t matter, these New England gateway towns are all alike.
The movie The Ice Storm took place in New Canaan, and I remember a scene with a ‘key party’ (art has been known to imitate life… just sayin’). Don’t get me wrong, Fairfield County, CT is a wonderful place to live, but isn’t it ironic that I didn’t want to live in Jersey? Uh, now I remember why.
I never gave New Jersey a chance. All I ever remembered was driving past smelly refineries. I thought, this must be the armpit of the country. The only reason to come to NJ was to buy clothing tax-free and fill up the car with cheaper gas. Friends from Belle Mead invited us down one weekend, and we felt obligated to visit them, so I held my breath as we drove past those refineries and the scenery started to change.
I saw Jersey is also suburban with lots of strip malls along the congested Route 1. But then we drove into downtown Princeton. My first thought… this reminds me of Greenwich. It has a vibrant downtown with great shopping and restaurants (except for Burger King, which is now gone), rolling hills with winding country roads, neighboring horse farms… all very nice, with the exception of the inconvenient Dinky. That would make it more like New Canaan. I noticed that Princeton is too diversified to be Stepford, and that’s a good thing, right? Unfortunately there are no beaches here, but the Jersey Shore is only an hour away with several resort towns along the Atlantic. There’s hope for NJ!
Yikes! We had to relocate to Europe. Do NOT pass ‘Go’. Do not collect $200. First I’m taken away from the Big Apple, and now the continent? What is to become of me? Shh! I actually enjoyed living abroad – at times. After several years we returned to CT! Do I collect $200 NOW?
As luck would have it, we had to relocate to the Princeton area. Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled. After examining all nearby towns, we actually fell in love with Princeton since it almost felt like home (the Stepford home), but with brainy people. Living here for the past decade, I’ve grown to appreciate the town AND New Jersey, as you can tell from this previous post amongst others. So when my friends remind me that I never wanted to move to Jersey because I thought it was the armpit of the country, I defend my state. And Princeton? It offers much of what I know from CT and a tiny bit of NYC, yet it has its own personality. And now whenever we drive into the city, I get those dirty looks while getting out of our car with Jersey plates (oh no she didn’t).
How in the world did I end up in Princeton? Call it fate, karma, or whatever you’d like, but no matter what the reason, I now call Princeton home and I’m proud of it! Besides, how many can say they’ve lived in all three states in the tri-state area? Maybe I’ll even spot Snookie down the shore some day, and do some fist pumps for her, or not. Thankfully I haven’t heard of any key parties in town… yet.