Not only do we have lots of wonderful diners in New Jersey, we also have this thing called "the shore".
Smack up against the Atlantic, we have this great shoreline that is nearly 100% sandy beaches. In the summer, they're jam packed with people, sloshing about in the waves, riding their surfboards and belly boards, tanning themselves golden brown like biscuits and cooling off in the green waters.
Sometimes, it is just the idea of the shore that makes me happy. When I was in my teens, I actually used to use Coppertone suntan lotion as a moisturizer. I'd go to sleep smelling as if I were ready to put down my towel and loll in the sunshine.
Jersey guys know about the wonders of the shore, too. I used to find some very handsome guys on the boardwalk at either Seaside Heights or Point Pleasant. Wildwood was too far for us to drive back then, and there were all those tolls, but it has a great boardwalk too. People from Philly tended to go there, while people from north and central Jersey did Seaside and the Point. (As pointed out by Stephanie Plum in one of her misadventures, yes, that was how the shore points were divided.)
It's beautiful, even in winter when the ocean is grey and the waves seem to pound the beaches harshly, taking it out on the sand because nobody is playing on it. Maybe the ocean is lonesome, can't wait for summer. I will never know.
I will say that some of the most fabulous times of my life were spent "down the shore". That's a Jerseyism. Nobody else in the world says that that way.
I'm proud to be from New Jersey.
I'm thankful to friends who led me there this weekend. I learned so much. But I hope I contributed something worthwhile, too.