Imagine my curiosity when I received a comment on my Moving Day weekend post from an editor, inquiring if I wanted to write a column about the wonders of living in Hobokia (Hoboken).
Behold, my weekly installment in the OpEd section of the weekly newspaper, Hoboken Progress:
Since I still need to figure out how to embed pdf files, I have pasted the copy here:
The question comes less often now, but it inevitably rears its ugly, little head. Whenever the topic of apartment shuffling pops into the conversation between my friends of an (212) area code and myself, as if I were guilty of hiding my PATH card behind my MTA Metrocards, I’m struck with, “So, when are you finally going to move across the Hudson?”
Though sugarplums may dance in the heads of other sleepers, I awake having dreamt of chicken cutlets and mozzarella. Thanks to the wonders of century-old venting systems, my living space is supplied with the aroma of marinara sauce, on a daily basis.
Since moving to Hoboken two years ago, like an Alice in Wonderland my apartments have gotten increasingly “curiouser and curiouser” as I’ve resided no farther north than 10th Street, no further east than Park Avenue. I’ve slept on an air mattress and in a closet. Forget railroad style—I’ve lived in a donut-shaped apartment. But the best, by far, is at my current address.
My answer to my friends’ question has taken on many forms over the past 24 months. At first it was some muttering void of humor, wit, or even logic, just to change the topic. Having grown up in New Jersey, I’ve learned to ignore insults thrown at the Garden State.
Then, as my adoration for this little town grew, I learned to strike back, demanding of my inquisitors: Why would I leave a town where I can walk home from any restaurant or bar within 10 minutes? Not when the PATH also takes me to destinations in Manhattan faster than my friends can climb down from the Upper East Side.
But it wasn’t until after I settled into my third apartment that I finally found the ultimate reason why I have no current plans to move out of this mile-square town. Now, when plagued with the inevitable, my reply is: “Do you dream of raviolis? Because I do.”
As of right now, there are two prime suspects: the little Italian grocery below that my landlord owns (I hand the monthly rent checks to a man in a paper-wedge cap) or the other establishment on the block, Leo’s Grandevous. Just short of being nimble enough to crawl through the air ducts, I’m at a loss for how to solve the spaghetti sauce mystery of Second Street. But, word on the street is, as one of Hoboken’s oldest family-owned restaurants, the food service at Leo’s began with the owner’s wife serving dinners out of her own kitchen—in the apartment above the joint. Though obviously not the case today, I like to believe this slice of town history is the explanation behind my wonderful discovery as a tenant of downtown Hoboken.
There’s no greater flashback than a flood of memories triggered by a particular scent. For me, recollections of my mid-20s will always smell of marinara sauce, and for right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.