I've only recently totally embraced my identity as a Jersey Girl. Oh yes, back in the day the hair was sprayed with cans and cans of Aqua Net - I may be solely responsible for that hole in the ozone layer; I sported a gold "J" inital ring on my right index finger; and had an "Italian Princess" charm necklace thanks to an Aunt who indulged me (my parents would NEVER have bought that for me). Our family went "down the shore" in the summer, and my friends and I loved going to Great Adventure when we could. My favorite music was Billy Joel (NOT Jersey; I think I was somehow part Long Island Princess) and Bruce Springsteen - a native Jersey boy. I had a soft spot for anything Sinatra. But I wasn't into hair bands then - that was a little too "wild" for me. Regretfully, I didn't appreciate Jon Bon Jovi until much more recently.
When I moved out of Jersey for college, and summers during college, and then post-college to the DC area, I really didn't miss it. I have to admit that I was a little ashamed to be from NJ - it tends to be the armpit of the Tri-State area (Staten Island being a close second.) So I was glad to be able to establish an identity outside of what mall I shopped at and what exit I lived near. I was certainly glad to drop the "Joisy" accent that still subconciously creeps back when I spend any amount of time there. The hair is no longer permed and teased within an inch of it's life, the gold jewelry got pushed to the back of the jewelry box (the "J" ring was lost on a beach somewhere - thankfully!), and I really don't remember when I was last "down the shore."
But almost two years back, Jon Bon Jovi triggered my re-connection to Jersey, and now I wear my Jersey Girl identity on my sleeve. I saw him interviewed by Larry King late one night - ironically while staying at my mom's house in NJ - and developed a whole new appreciation for him. He is a ridiculously smart businessman, incredibly talented singer/songwriter, and quite cute (uh... understatement of the year; my husband reads this blog). And he's really proud of being from New Jersey. I now know the lyrics to most Bon Jovi songs, and I'm teaching them to my kids. My 5 year old daughter even wants to go to the next concert with me. And in case you missed it, this blog got its name from a Bon Jovi lyric.
I guess you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you'll never, ever take Jersey out of the girl. I have quite a few Jersey Girl friends here in Maryland and I think we all feel the same way. None of us really want to go back to live there (even I'll admit it still smells a lot) but we are proud of our Jersey Girl status. We'll always be Jersey Girls no matter where we live. And I guess we're so cool that we have at least one "wanna be a Jersey Girl" friend. We've given her "honorary" Jersey Girl status. Now if only we could get her an initial ring for her right index finger.