Today I begin my fourth year of living in Hoboken. I searched old blogs for one to reprint from that first day here, but of course there were none. I was too newly set up to be online, although I did use the Internet at a café nearby on Washington Street, and my early blogposts described a much colder winter that year, a virus that hit me a day or so after I arrived, problems getting access to my bank account, waiting a few days for my furniture to arrive, and at least as many if not more challenges than most people have on a cross-country relocation.
I had almost forgotten that until I went back to the first "Finding Myself in Hoboken" blog posts. I thought I'd find a blog full of optimism and excitement about my new home. That indomitable joy in life, no matter where I am or what I'm enduring, is there, to be sure, a sort of underlying awareness that things are going to be better once I know my way around and make new friends. But reading my day to day experiences even I wonder what kept me going.
I liked Hoboken as soon as I saw it for the first time. I had all but decided to relocate to the New York City area, although I had discovered the reality that New York is too expensive for me now. I had a look at Brooklyn, Queens, Jersey City, and even Newark, where I had friends living in the Ironbound district. Nothing embraced me as Hoboken did at first sight. I liked the reality of hearing foreign languages on the street, from Polish to French, Spanish and Italian. I loved the little grocery stores that looked as if they'd been there for a century and looked like something you'd find in Italy. I loved the bread you could buy anywhere, the Italian delis that competing for the title of "Best Mozzarella in Hoboken," the cross-section of cultures--yuppies, middle class parent types, b-n-r's talking with heavy "Joisey" accents in the parks, and little elderly people conversing on the benches. I loved the hurly-burly of Washington Street, with restaurants and food shops of all kinds, the bars bursting with noisy young people and the outdoor tables at Washington Street restaurants, full of couples with strollers (so many of them twin strollers at that). I loved the occasional Sinatra song piped onto the street from local eateries, and the pictures of Frank in so many shops and restaurants.
That was when I was looking at Hoboken from the outside. I can say that after three full years I still enjoy the busy streets, the friendly and motley assortment of residents. The blog itself introduced me to some wonderful people. My friend Cristina, a transplant from Colombia and, with her husband Ron and their grown children, a citizen of the world, made a lunch date with me after reading some of those helpless early blog posts, and has been a best friend for about three years now. I learned stories of old Hoboken from a blog reader named Bob Slezak, who filled me in with wonderful tales of what the city was like in the 1950's. Early blog posts, with photos provided by Slezak, prompted comments from his friends and from others who had other memories of what Hoboken used to be like.
I know more people now. I've bought a condo. I am a resident with a New Jersey driver's license and I can give directions when asked. I wouldn't say I've quite put down roots, but I live here, and I like it.
There is a vibrant pulse to the town yet. It is many things at once, and most people who live here, although they may spend much of their time across the river in Manhattan, profess to love that certain something that exists here and nowhere else. It was a good move. I'm happy to be embarking on my fourth year.