This is my story. The story of a small town girl with big-time dreams and a deadly (contagious) case of Wanderlust. I'm seeking life's most important question: what I want to do with the rest of my life and how to get there, while chasing samurai and wearing French berets, all the while differentiating between foreigner, gaijin, and Étranger...
Most normal college kids go through some sort of bout of homesickness when they go off the school. Usually it can be fixed with a nice long phone call with parents, a package filled with homemade cookies, clothes that smell like Mom's detergent, the knowledge that someone else misses you, or some pictures of loved ones. But, being that I have never in my life, been what you would consider normal, this does not apply to me. When I was 15 years-old, I spent a year in Japan, and never once fell to the clutches of Homesickness. At 17 years-of-age, I lived in France and traveled around Europe for a year. I was by myself as an exchange student, while my family and friends stayed home. Never once over the courses of these years, did I ever get homesick, as far-fetched as that may sound. I was having way to much fun!
The same goes for the past 1 year and 2 months I have spent in South Carolina, as a university student at Clemson University. I do not miss home at all. Why should I, when I love it so much!? However, I did miss some things. I think it has to do with that fact that come December, I am definitely going to be home with my sister, bagels with cream cheese, strange Tri-state accents, and New York City, but I can not be too sure when I will return to France and Japan. In order to combat those occasional pangs of longing, I run out and indulge in fine Sushi, with fancy Japanese names, and of course delicious Nutella smothered over slices of South Carolinian French-bread. Life does not get much better when you truly can have it all!
My name is Julie Garner, born and raised in New Jersey.
I know, right? New Jersey! That's disgusting! That's like admitting to being raised in a greasy pizza box under the Brooklyn Bridge.
I guess I am used to this prejudice about my deep roots. After all, traveling and living around the world these past couple of years has exposed me to some pretty ugly anti-Americanism. After all, the "arrogant fat American" comment just got old, and I soon began to embrace my stereotype. But being back home in the United States of America has made things no less complicated, just inherently different. You see I have come to terms with the fact that no matter where in life I go, and I know I will go far, I will always be a Jersey girl. There I said it, I'm ready for the fake tan and high maintenance comments to begin.
A part of me is truly pained to say where I am from, since everyone of my Clemson friends, has grimaced at the thought that they are associating with a true blue Jersey girl. It is as if whenever I get introduces as Julie from Jersey, someone always inevitable pumps a fist into the air, snickers out loud, or says something stupid like, "New Joisey." Not to mention that this past year has put New Jersey on the map- and certainly not in a good way.
I was born and raised in a state with 4 seasons. Skiing in the winter, allergies in the spring, down the shore for summer festivities, and fall foliage in November. I have known what DTS for MDW means since I was in diapers. I feasted on Taylor Ham, tasty bagels quite possibly than those in Manhattan, delectable baked goods form the famous Italian bakeries in every town, and Jersey tomatoes that just can not be beaten. I grew up in an area, whereby with a free day and a sense of adventure, I could choose between climbing the Statue of Liberty, crabbing on a pier in Long Beach Island, hiking and searching for the Jersey Devil in the pine barrens, Revolutionary War study in Trenton, or just driving along the Turnpike and taking any random exit and exploring the suburbs and bustling towns of this great state. And, of course, if the weather is not so good, than there is always a shopping mall to hit up. After all, it is an 'unofficial' New Jersey law that every town must be within 20 miles of the a large shopping center.
To me, I love New Jersey, not because of the stereotypes, the fist-pumpers on the beach, the 'armpit of the US of A, a turnpike that takes up the length and width of the state, medical waste and repulsive disgusting beaches and towns, an atmosphere of constant rush and rudeness. What I love about New Jersey is the love that one has for the state and place that anyone has for their birth place. New Jersey has taught me that what does not kill me will only make me stronger, sometimes all you need is a little dts for things to make sense, and of course, why learn to pump gas when someone else can do it for you?
Throughout my life, I have spent the better part of my daily day to day musings and happenings by myself. I run by myself, I curl up in a good book alone, I watch movies in my room with no the company of no one. My High School career was categorized by sessions of alone time, which I wittingly labeled, "Me Time." I embraced those few hours between my three jobs, studying for the AP tests, and preparing for a life in France for one year. It was in those hours where I would set off for a long relaxing run or go biking. Being Alone was beautiful and I looked forward to the moments of just being me.
But something changed within me while I studied abroad in France. Suddenly this much-adored 'Me Time' became a curse and a hurdle that I could not overcome. I did not make friends easily in France and being in the middle of nowhere- the beautiful lush endless green miles of fine Burgundy vineyard- came at a steep price. There is only so many times you can run and get lost in the woods, bike and enjoy the company of the just grapes, and be silent in a room with just one's thoughts. There is a very line between between being alone in a positive light and negative light, and I had quickly crossed the line into the negative light. Although I conquered much of the alone time with long trips and travel to see people I probably never would have gotten around to seeing without endless time on my hand, I suddenly developed a taste aversion to being by myself. The loner I had long developed into in personality abandoned me one afternoon, and has never since returned.
When I started college, being alone scared me enough to put myself out there on the market. I learned from my mistakes in High School and in France. My roommate Grace was my first project, and after some time, I can successfully say that she became my best friend. I also joined a social sorority, which surprised everyone who had ever crossed my path in the past years of my life. I decided early on that at parties I had better learn to mingle than to stand in the corner observing. When Grace felt obligated to return home to her parents for the weekend, leaving me in our big empty dorm room, I would try to make her feel guilty.
"This is reckless abandonment!" I would declare. By then Grace had learned to ignore me, although at first, she grimaced and said, "it's only for the weekend..."
A lot has changed in me since I developed my aversion towards loneliness. I think this aversion has spawned by hatred towards Summer 2010 and the inevitable spans of being by myself. Even though I have two jobs, I have returned to a town where I a square peg in a round hole. My friends are spread out all over the United States of America- and I am sitting by myself entertaining my thoughts and trying not to be to glum about this lonely feeling I have.
A common illness most college students are stricken with, besides Scabies, Herpes, and Alcoholism, is the Empty Wallet Syndrome. I for one am always suffering from the problems of the syndrome, which include the symptoms, of having absolutely nothing within one's wallet. (That's when debit cards tend to come in handy...) Although I have two paying jobs, I also have a new fascination with J. Crew shorts that has diminished my savings significantly.
As a remedy for the syndrome, I recently opened an eBay account and decided to relinquish a considerable amount of my inventory. I have now sold several skirts that probably would not get around one thigh (when the heck was I that skinny?), and some technology that can be considered Stone Age material in today's age of Ipod's that do everything but pole dance and swim Breaststroke.
Interestingly enough, my sales on eBay have taught me more things than I would ever have expected. Firstly, I am beginning to think that no blue-blooded American truly has an eBay account, or at least uses it for buying things. I have sent items to Amit Sengupta, Giuseppe Angelini Cannolio, Hidalgo Velasquez, and Si-Yoo "James" Chung. I have only agreed to send packages to the United States but so far, I have sent packages to Hawaii, California, Mississippi, and Wyoming. I make it a habit to look up the towns on a map to improve my geography with each and every shipment I make. Some towns are too small for state maps, and I have had to resort to Google Earth.
Besides for my interaction with the auction United Nations, I have come to believe that one man's garbage is another man's treasure. Half of the stuff currently being sold on my eBay account is junk just taking up precious space in my room. Junk, that, after quite a few successful sales, has earned me over $350 on the eBay auction system. On the flip side, my nasty habit of J. Crew shorts purchases is also junk to the people I purchase it from. No complaints from here or there.
But I have also begun to believe that human nature plays a mighty big role in sales purchases. I sold my beloved old Canon Digital Rebel on eBay for a significantly high price. The description stayed true to the condition of the camera, heavily-used but still in great shape. The man who purchased it made sure to "warn" me to put full insurance on the item, which I have of course did. Thank goodness for that, seeing as I just found out that this character filed a claim from the shipping company. I guess I don't know the extent of the details, but the claim is that camera shuts off each time a picture is taken. I took several good shots with it that morning, so I am quite skeptical. Regardless, I will stay out of this one for sure.