According to Jewish Talmudic traditions, moving to a new location brings a change of “mazal” – meaning either luck or fortune. One reason, says the teachings, is that it’s human nature for your views and actions to be reactionary to the fellow citizens around you. Change your surroundings, and your fortune changes as well – for better or worse.
I find that concept to be so fundamentally true that it actually makes my chest ache. You know what I mean – that physical response to an idea or moment that so markedly reminds you that you are living. Right here, right now. It’s happening.
But let me take it down a notch. I didn’t mean to start so heavy – I meant to be celebratory. A fond reflection of my most recent move to Jersey City. But before I do so, let me take a quick step back.
My enchantment with NYC made it hard for me to think about how I could live anywhere else and feel the same sense of belonging. When I originally arrived in NYC, I was already a seasoned mover – a modern day gypsy if you will. I had almost 30 moves before turning 30, having lived all over tri-state suburbia and even among the orchards of an Israeli village. So when I moved into my first two-bed flex in Battery Park City, I did so with the no thought of permanence. Another means to an end – the end being law school.
And then, like so many others, I immediately fell in love. And with that love came a deep sense of finding my home in the world. One J.D., two boyfriends, and three apartments later, I was still having the time of my life. But like so many before me (and surely after me), I got priced out. The rent for my one-bedroom UES apartment was going up and the space- to-rent ratio just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.
So I crossed back over the Hudson and found myself in Jersey City. Calling upon my vagabond powers, I scoured my network and the cityscape and settled upon a new harborside construction with large windows (a non-negotiable of mine), an 8-minute walk to mass transit, and the most breathtaking views of Lady Liberty. But again, despite my excitement, I was back to my old thinking. Not home – but good enough. For now.
Fast forward nearly 90 days later and I have only scratched the city’s surface. But fortune has shifted. And it’s so wonderful.
It’s not the immediate love I found with NYC or my infatuation with New Orleans. No – Jersey City is not for the fickle. It requires you to know it. For real. It makes you work for it. Neighboring lands may hear rumors of it’s existence, visitors may glimpse its magic, but taking the leap is what gives you the prize. It’s what keeps it safely hidden – yet just available enough for those that believe. It’s what makes it home.