Editor’s Note: This is a personal essay submitted by one of our readers.
Though I moved to North Bergen in June of 1996, my history with Hudson County goes back a decade prior. My father worked at the Parkview Towers high-rise apartment complex in West New York. We still lived in Brooklyn, which meant an hour-plus daily commute to and from New Jersey.
In the summer of 1986, my father hired me to work in his office for a few weeks. This meant I had to wear jeans instead of shorts, a tragedy for a teenage boy. It also meant that I had to learn how to work in an office. This meant paying attention to detail, and not sleeping on the job. Unfortunately I did not pay attention to my work, and I fell asleep at my desk several times.
With a lot of effort on my father’s part, I did eventually learn how to behave more professionally. Ten years later, with my own burgeoning career in Tech Support for Wenner Media, publisher of Rolling Stone and US magazines, I looked to Hudson County for my first apartment.
I had been living with a friend from college, Craig, in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, but I wanted an easier commute to Manhattan, and my own space. With its better quality of life and cheaper gas prices, my father had always touted New Jersey as a great place to live. He reminded me about Boulevard East, with its majestic view of the Manhattan skyline. It was just a few blocks from his office, and he thought I might like living there.
I ultimately came upon a moderately affordable studio apartment in Hudson Ridge, a lo-rise apartment complex in North Bergen on Boulevard East.
A year after moving into Hudson Ridge, I accepted a position at Time Inc., working the night shift at People magazine. I would often need to remain at work until the magazine closed at four or five in the morning. At that time of the day, without any traffic, I would get home in a little over twenty minutes, so it was clear I had chosen well.
By 1997, I was tired of renting, and ready to buy my own place. I had originally looked in Cliffside Park and Ft. Lee, until a realtor showed me a spacious one-bedroom at the Parker Imperial, just up the road from Hudson Ridge. I had always dreamed about living in a building with a doorman, parking garage, swimming pool and gymnasium. The final selling point was the apartment’s spectacular view of midtown Manhattan. I made an offer, and after several, nail-biting months, received approval on a mortgage, and took ownership in June of 1998. My first night, I looked out at Manhattan’s shimmering skyline, and felt like a rock star. I had hoped that my apartment might impress a date or two. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
The challenges of dating in New York City are far too numerous and complex to discuss in this essay, but at the top of the list is location. Like many a brave soul of the past decade, I suffered through the trials and indignities of Internet dating. I’d answer a profile from a woman in New York. The response (if she wrote back) said, “I don’t date people from New Jersey.” Sometimes I’d reply, “But it’s just across the river and so easy to get to my apartment.” They’d reply, “Sorry, I don’t go to New Jersey.” Fine, then. I decided I would date women who lived in New Jersey. We would go to Hoboken or to my friend Chris’ restaurant in Secaucus, Trillo’s. Still, no luck.
In the end, no Jersey girl saved me from the horrors of Internet dating. It was a woman who lived in North Carolina.
Having been introduced by a mutual friend a few years earlier, Amy and I had started dating seriously when she was in the final year of her Doctoral program. A year later, she accepted a job as an Assistant Professor at a University in Scranton, Pa., a town best known as the setting for “The Office.”
Soon, we were engaged. After much discussion, it was decided that I would leave my job and home of almost fifteen years, and move to Scranton. On a rainy, icy morning in January 2011, I said good-bye to my apartment at the Parker Imperial for a new life.
In August of 2012, now married, Amy and I took our friend Rachael from Nashville on a tour of Manhattan. On the way back to Scranton, we thought it would be fun to show her the view of Manhattan from Boulevard East. As we walked through Hamilton Park in Weehawken, I remembered my years living in Hudson County. By then, my parents had both passed, their Brooklyn apartment about to be sold. For the first time in my life, I no longer had a home in the New York/New Jersey area.
While Rachael took pictures of the skyline, Amy asked if we’d ever end up living here. “Maybe,” I said. It’s where I learned how to work in an office, live on my own, and become an adult.