Perhaps it’s no coincidence that I wrote my AP English Essay on the Metamorphosis. I can’t deny that something inside of me has always related to the book’s main character, Gregor Samsa, who wakes up from a night of crazy dreams to find that he has morphed into a giant insect. Only instead of one night of nightmares, I’m coming off of three weeks of jokes. Jokes about Aquanet, Lee press-ons and Juicy Couture. And while I didn’t wake up today to find myself wearing sweats at the mall while purchasing a new Coach Hobo, the transformation IS happening and it’s occurring more swiftly than I imagined. By the way, I kind of like it.
Before I even get into all the spectacular ways I’m slowly but surely returning to the state from whence I came – they name is New Jersey - I’m all too proud to share that my legacy has lived on in the land where both gas and fists are pumped. As we made like vagabonds, temporarily homeless between vacating our rented NYC apartment and closing on our purchased Montclair Condominium, my husband T and I set up shop in my parents’ home. There’s a lot of food, a lot of wine, a lot of laughs and the average volume of any conversation is just below shouting. Nightly, I am transported back to 1998 as I tippy-toe up the staircase, trying desperately to be quiet only to find out the next day that I failed when Poppa UnPlain asks me why I stomped all over the house last night. Despite the non-stop barrage of “Eat This! It came out good!” from Grandma and the unusual quantity of red-meat and tomatoes I was consuming, it wasn’t until my first day of commuting to work that I realized, I had truly returned home.
For our first commute, T and I made our way from my parents house at the end of the cul-de-sac I grew up on to the New Jersey Transit bus stop at the top of the block. He wore a back pack and sneakers while I struggled up the hill in heels carrying my tote, walking as if I was expecting the paparazzi to jump out to snap a pic of UnPlain rockin' the ‘burbs. As he dragged me along, desperate for me to move faster we suddenly heard the automatic start of a car and the muffled sound of dance musci on the radio. Simultaneously, we looked to our right and there she was, standing before us - UnPlain Jane 2.0. We stared. Silent. It was as if I’d been reincarnated in my neighbors daughter. T’s jaw dropped and then he mumbled something about this girl being me circa 1998. It was true.
Her shirt was a little too low cut, her jeans a little too small and her highlights a little too fake. She ran out of the garage wearing a tank top, in November, and then ran back inside to ge the lipgloss/cellphone/schoobook that she forgot. We stared in awe as she ripped out of her driveway and off too school in her too-fast-for-a-17-year-old Convertible Mustang. The very same car that was my first, in a long line of driven-into-the-ground vehicles. The only things missing were a Parliament Light hanging from her lips and an Italian Horn hanging from her rear view mirror. Immediately overwhelmed with nostalgia, I looked at T and said, “I love her.”
From that moment on I have been (secretly) pumped to be back in NJ, the very place that bred “Jersey Jane”, long before there was an UnPlain. Stay tuned…