When I was 17, I moved from Teaneck, New Jersey to 1600 Grand Avenue in St Paul to attend Macalester College. That was 17 years ago and I’m still here. Long gone are the keg stands and the booze fueled nights streaking across the big lawn. But there are still all-nighters, and plenty of caffeine. I’m a mom now. So the all-nighters I pull are lit up by a turtle nightlight that sprays colored stars on my son’s nursery walls. They have been spent staring at a baby monitor, making sure he’s still breathing, that the lovey we placed in his crib is clutched tight, wondering if he’s going to cough himself awake or decide he’s fully rested at 3 am.
I haven’t lived in New Jersey since I left, but all of my family is on the east coast. We visit several times a year, crowd into small apartments in Brooklyn and marvel at how there are just so many people everywhere we go, and how life just seems so much harder in the big, over crowded, loud, concrete city.
I stay in touch with family through Facetime and with my mother especially, through voicemails. My mother’s name is Ginny. She’s 69 years old, born and raised in Union City, NJ. She watches a lot of E Channel and Access Hollywood. She also has a lot to say about parenting.
(*beep!) in the (very Jersey) voice of my mother:
“Hi hon, it’s me. I just heard about Sandra Bullock and that guy with the tattoos. I know this is going to sound crazy, but I couldn’t sleep last night. I just felt so bad for her. She’s so sweet and he’s such a douche. How could he do something like that? I hope she has someone to talk to. Maybe that woman that she did the blind side with? It’s going to take a long time for her to get over this. I hope she’s close with her mother. Poor thing.”
"hi love. I’m sorry, I got your email today but I couldn’t figure out how to reply to it and the guy who does the computer stuff was on his honeymoon. Did I tell you he got married? He’s so nice, Daniel. His wife works at Houston’s in Riverside Square. Look, I know it’s hard but you have to put callum down in his crib. I know Yvette is breast feeding and its easy to roll over and feed him, blah blah blah, but trust me, at some point, you’re gonna regret it. Let him cry, he’ll be fine. Have a glass of wine and watch dancing with the stars and he’ll be asleep before you know it. I can’t believe that Kate Gosselin is on this show, isn’t she terrible? Talk about two left feet …”
“Hi hun. Are you watching the Golden Globes? You don’t have to call me back, I just wanted you to know I bought Callum some of those sleeper sack things you wanted at Red, White & Blue for $1.25 and some still have the tags on them. I have the TV on and that chick from E, the one who just adopted a baby, she just looks so, so thin. I hope she gains some weight. I saw Bradley Cooper on Good Morning America and he is so nice. I never understood why he was sexiest man alive, all that People magazine crap, he doesn’t do it for me. But he has very pretty eyes. REALLY LIGHT BLUE. Oh wait, he’s about to talk to ryan seacrest about his movie. Did you see it? The Playbook? That girl is sensational in it, the one who was in those Harry Potter Games movies. She looks sensational. I’ll talk to you later. (kissing noises) Love you. Bye.”
“hi love. I just missed your call, I was in the shower. I came home from Shop Rite and the stray cat I’ve been feeding, Tom, was waiting at the door. He came up real close and gave me a good sniff, but I don’t want to try and pet him. I think it would scare him. I feel so bad for all of the stray cats. I wish I could just bring them inside, but Midnight would start hissing. I’m so sorry you’re allergic, but I know you’re an animal lover so I know you understand. I saw Ryan Gosling on one of the talk shows and he brought his dog with him. He had something on his leg or his paw like a cast, but it was so cute – and very docile. He just keep sitting there waiting for ryan to feed him bits of apple. Look, I’d be docile too if he was sitting on my couch, trying to feed me some apple. He’s cute in a pretty way I think but way too young for me. You know who is so sexy? That sanjay gupta on CNN. Sexy. Anyway, I have to unload my shopping but I’ll talk to you later. Love you. And thanks for sending me those Uggs. My feet are so warm. Bye bye!”