Saturday, February 02, 2008

You Know You're from South Jersey if......

..... Groundhog Day is a really important holiday, not just the title of an annoying Bill Murray movie from the nineties. You have memories of jumping out of bed and wondering all day, until some evening TV reporter finally told you (there were no instant internet reports from Puxatowney) whether or not "Phil" really saw his shadow. It was important! You were sick of winter... the anticipation of snow had ended, Christmas was over, and everything was grey and brown and cold and ugly. To you, a child, six weeks sounded unbearably long to wait for warm days. Somehow, we all took this bit of whimsy seriously, for I can recall asking, later in February, "Did he see his shadow this year?" when I'd forget how long I had to wait.

You know you are from South Jersey if you associate New Years' Day with Mummers' Parade, not the Rose Bowl. You know you are from South Jersey if you think Mother Leeds' 13th child really lurks in the Pine Barrens. And, you are chagrined when you learn that these customs and rituals are regional. Indeed, people in other parts of the country have their own, thank you very much.

But as you stay longer & longer away from your homeland, you cherish its idiosyncises more than you ever would have imagined. You dream of them on cold winter nights, waiting for spring: Diners. Farmer's roadside markets. Cheese steaks. Wawa. No one else understands.. unless they are from South Jersey, too.

Like the Groundhog, you'd love to go back in your hole for six more weeks, and dream of home, of all you loved and all you left behind.