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Lessons Learned from a weekend in Jersey

Lessons Learned from a weekend in Jersey

written in November 2017

I went back to Jersey last weekend for the first time in 19 years. You know you’re getting old when you go back to a place 19 years later. We left NJ before I started 4th grade but I still claim it as home. (mostly because I want to be from the same place a Bruce Springsteen, which I am, for the record)

My mom’s friend’s daughter was getting married (congrats Tori & Evan!) and my dad couldn’t make it out for the wedding with her so I got to go in his place. This was a family we grew up with, spent every Halloween trick-or-treating together, and it was exciting for me to go back after being gone for so long.

Note: 19 years is a reallllly long time. I found myself saying “nice to meet you” to people who knew me really well as a small child.

I was sure Bruce would walk into every restaurant we ate at and I’d get a selfie with him. It didn’t happen but I did visit 2 of his Freehold houses which was pretty thrilling for me.


I walked the halls of my dad’s high school and snapped a picture of the house my grandma raised 6 kids in. Also the house I had a Barney-themed birthday party and spent hours swimming in their pool.

Ever since we left Jersey, I haven’t had extended family nearby. I think that made going back to Jersey last weekend extra-special. Even though we don’t have any family there anymore, that kind of nostalgia and blast from the past isn’t something I’m used to experiencing.

Like all things, I gleamed a few lessons learned from our trip to the east coast:

A reminder on the value of spontaneity. This trip with my mom was planned very last minute. She called, asked me if I wanted to go, and the flights were booked. There is something special about that kind of planning, just going for it and figuring out how you are going to make it work later. Was it the best time for work or for school? Nope. But was it worth it? Most definitely.

Gas that you don’t pump yourself is weird. You still can’t pump your own gas in New Jersey, or at least not at the gas station we stopped at.

Nothing beats mother-daughter time. I hadn’t seen my mom in 11 months and it was such a blast to spend time with her. I was so excited to be hanging out with her, I wish we didn’t have to waste time sleeping!

Weddings are so special. Celebrating another couple and their love is so so happy. I forget how much love weddings until I am there. I love the unique spin and how the couples personality shines through the wedding experience. Congrats Tori & Evan!

Seeing my mom with her best friends. We had dinner Friday night with one of my moms friends and then spent time with another one of her best friends (mother of the bride) at the wedding on Saturday. It was really special to see the women that were her lifelines when she was raising small kiddos back in the day and see how meaningful those relationships were. It made me think about my close friends who have been there for so much. Cherish your friends and send them a little “I appreciate you” text today. Hang on tight to the ones who span across time and distance.

Sometimes it’s okay to be in the dark. Literally. The restaurant we ate at on Friday night had a power outage and we seemed to be the only table that seemed to mind. I mean, it was pitch black other than everyone’s cell phone flashlights but all guests just moved on with their meals and chatter. We left after about twenty minutes in the dark and once we were able to track down someone to pay our bill. It was one of the oddest experiences but maybe I need to be more okay with being in the dark.

I need an elevator pitch for my job. (#SAprobs) Seeing all of these people after 19 years, naturally, they wanted to know what I was up to in California. It was a reminder that I need to work on my student affairs elevator pitch – to all of the other SA pros out there – what do you say? (Convo usually goes something like this: Me: I work at Fresno State. Them: Ooh! What do you teach? Me: I don’t teach. I work on the non-academic side <stumble through a different version every time about what that means>. Them: Ooh. <convo ends>

Adventuring is never the same without my adventure partner, Colin.

Unplug. I really unplugged from email and Facebook for 2 (almost 3) solid days which was something that I haven’t done in months. It was great to go off the grid, even just for a few days.

Oh, and one more…

Doing homework on an airplane is hard, no matter how good your intentions are.

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