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  • Valerie Stunning

Jersey grit...

When you grow up in the part of New Jersey I grew up in, the NYC skyline is inescapable.

Brimming with all it’s hyperbolized promise, even as the Brooklyn transplant that I was (I was born in Manhattan and lived in the iconic borough until I was nearly five,) as a teenager all I’d ever day dream about was my glorious return to New York City.

I spent the better part of my 17 and 18 years driving out to this very spot in my busted ass mini van. Armed with an ashtray full of raggedy roaches and half smoked Marlborough Light 100’s.

In the time it would take for the smoke of my cracked radiator to clear and cool down so that I could refill it with enough coolant to make the drive back home. I would get high and strategize just how in the hell I was going to make it all happen.

It seemed pretty simple. Scrape together whatever money I had left over from my waitressing gigs (at highway side diners and shitty chain restaurants, of course!) Find a job in NYC, then an apartment, and live happily ever after. Surely, if I could do this in New Jersey, I could do it anywhere! Right?

Ohhhhhh, baby Val… Lol.

Before a week ago, I can’t remember the last time I visited this spot. Although the hazy skyline due to an exotic mix of 90% humidity plus all the smoke from Canada’s fires nearly cock-blocked the view, it still brought up all the feels.

Especially after this past year of wading through my own special brand of depression, anxiety, nihilism… Ohhh heyyy, pandemic-induced-existential-crisis…

It was really beautiful to be reminded that there’s so much growth and adventure still to come. That it will probably look and feel even more expansive than I could ever imagine. That, moving back to NYC was cool and all, AND checking it off my list once I was done, was even better. ❤


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