There’s No Place Like Home

That Dorothy was on to something wasn’t she?

My family of four and I just returned from a visit up to Jerz and I gotta say, there’s no place like home.  Even though I’m 37 years old and have been living in Northern Virginia for over 10 years I STILL get homesick.

The only way to cure my “faraway from home blues” is to go back to the place where I’m from.  Lucky for me that’s only a four hour car ride up north.

The truth is no matter how old I get, and how big a support group I build down here, nothing will compare to the people and places that truly made me…me.  I mean the REAL me.  The Macrie me. The Macrie who was confident enough to be bold in her ways and not give an S what anybody thought regardless.

I hate to admit (and have never announced it publicly until now), but I’ve lost a bit of the spark I once had.  It’s been extinguished by a combination of fear, insecurity and probably a little paranoia. And maybe it was something more than a spark. Maybe it was more like a flame. Whatever it was I lost when I left, it all seems to come back when I’m home.

Now I realize this is a biased view, but I tend to think it’s due to a combination of familiarity along with good old fashioned Southern Jersey hospitality.  You heard that right.  Southern hospitality ain’t got nothing on Southern Jersey hospitality!

I’m not trying to brag or anything but it feels like the red carpet gets rolled out for us as soon as we exit the Ben Franklin and hop on 42.  The neighbors flock to my parent’s doorsteps, my cousins call and tell me to stop by and my friends drop what they’re doing to rearrange their schedules to come visit.

Would that happen if I was still there?  Probably not but it feels pretty damn good if only for a short weekend.

But allow me to circle back on my point about Southern Jersey hospitality.  There seems to be a common misconception about my home state that I would like to clear up.  For the record, the people where I’m from are as hospitable as those who are from the south…and maybe even more.

I believe a lot has to do with the fact that Jersey is so heavily populated with Italian-Americans.  And as we know, Italians are known to be a loving group. Unless you owe them money or crossed them in any other way. In that case you may be taking a dirt nap in the not-so-distant future.

Robert De Niro in Goodfellas

All joking aside, the warm and welcoming vibe that is pouring out of Jersey-Italian homes is mirrored by so many other communities up north.

We may have a bad rap because of our bluntness but I refuse to let that define us.  Although us South Jerseyans may be loud, and often brash, you’ll always know where we stand and we’ll love you no matter what.

You don’t have to worry about what we think of you because we’ll say it to your face and accept you for your faults.  After all, we all have them and no one’s trying to pretend they’re perfect.  In fact that’s one of the things I love most about where I’m from.

What you see is what you get.  If you don’t like it, you can kick rocks.  See, that’s the south oppressing my South Jersey mouth, keeping me from telling you where to really go ; )

And while you may not agree – as you may be from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, or somewhere out west where I’m not totally sure how the locals behave – we’re the same in the sense that we’re all a long way from home – literally or figuratively.  For that we should all try to leave the light on for one another a little longer, and love each other a little more. Just how it’s done back home.


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