When people ask me if I’ve ever lived in New York, I have to admit, “I’ve never lived in New York, but I lived in Jersey for six years.” That statement is usually met with pursed lips, a brief nod, and a pitying “hmmm.” Jersey just isn’t the same. It’s not better or worse, save Snooki and The Situation, but it’s not New York City.
During my time in Jersey, I adjusted to the frantically-paced lifestyle and the “kill or be killed” driving mentality. I gave in to the reality that rats were fair roadkill game and that the enormous potholes could swallow a small child. But you don’t brag about those things to visiting family who can’t believe you moved to Jersey in the first place. Instead, I used their trips north to tackle big ticket NYC items and relished being a wide-eyed tourist with them. A few friends from college lived there too, and through them I experienced the lesser-hyped NYC phenomena. I danced on the bar at the real Coyote Ugly, saw operas at the Met, got lost wandering Central Park, and threw my 30th birthday bash at a bar on 8th Ave.
After six years, leaving Jersey wasn’t tough. I learned so much about myself, and I’d never trade my time there for anything, but it was time to go home. Now that I’ve been back in Atlanta for a year, I’ve realized I regret not doing a few things before I left.
With Christmas around the corner, I’m especially bummed that I never saw the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. When I tried to rally my native Jersey friends to go back then, they made the tree lighting ceremony sound like the worst of horrors—a crush of holiday-frazzled humanity who made it impossible to be near the tree at the magical moment. The big day always came and went, and in the holiday-filled weeks afterward my excuse was that I was too busy. “I’ll go next year,” I said. But I never did. Then I moved. Onto the Mighty Peach Life List it went.
This year, the folks at Bing told me to pack my fanciest Santa hat, my camera, and my walking boots, because they are sending me to New York to gaze lovingly at my tree. Bonus? I’ll get to check off #10 on my Life List—have a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity! I’m counting the days and plotting what other trouble I can get into while I’m there.
I’ll report back when I return, but until then, tell me: What are your favorite NYC must-do and must-sees?