Monday, May 21, 2012

how to deal with having the face of New Jersey

My entire life I've been a generally confident person, if being loud can directly translate to a person's level of confidence. Nothing about me ever pointed toward "wallflower." For instance, take my hair. Large and unavoidable. While currently my hair is blonde and I often try to tame the fro, I grew up with a huge head of brunette curls. So big that this black boy in middle school named Demetrius asked me in sixth grade, 

"You black?" 

To which I responded, "No."

To which he responded, 

"You got a lil' somethin' somethin' in you though."

Oh Demetrius, I do, you wise-beyond-your-years boy. 

So my hair went with my voice which is as loud as my hair is big. 

Google image: "big loud hair." Except this girl has way better boobs than I do and great teeth. Anyway...

My point is that I know I'm a certain kind of girl. There are girls with little wrists and feet, and there are girls like me; who don't know how to be quiet and wear size 9 shoes. To read about my size 9 feet pride, click here.

I know I'm more in the class of girls who are bordering on being obnoxious and usually are obnoxious, but like to think of it as a certain level of charm. I know I'm not afraid to look ridiculous for a laugh and I know things like cooking, decorating, style, and general self-maintenance do not come natural for me. SO WHAT IF I DON'T WASH MY HAIR EVERY DAY? SO WHAT IF I WEAR MEN'S SOCKS AND NEVER MATCH THEM? 

With all this being said, I found myself last week sitting in a room full of actors....

I know, I had the same reaction. Even though I studied acting in school and hope to be able to make money off acting one day, I still get really, REALLY freaked out being in a room full of actors. But I also really, REALLY wanted to take this commercial class I'm currently in. And I love it. It's great. Our teacher is LeGiT~* (see what I did there, went back to middle school typing, love it, aafnmwead)

So the first exercise we did in this class is everyone gets up and we type them. We basically just shout out what we think they are in the commercial world. "Best friend!" "Car commercial!" "Nurse!" Stuff like that. Descriptions based only off our look. A little nerve-wracking, right? This is like every 13 year old girl's worst nightmare. Also 22 year old's. And probably just every person in general.

So I am one of the last to go up because we are doing it by seating. Lots of girls get up and lots of these girls are really cute, which by that I mean every girl is really cute. I'm one of the youngest in my class, or actually maybe the youngest, but you'd never know it. I'll save you the descriptions everyone got and skip to the girl right before me. She gets things like, "Sweet!" "Adorable best friend sorority sister!" "Someone you can trust!" "New bride!" "Pretty college girl!" "Yoga student." We all generally giggle and she sits down. 

Then I get up.

Now to preface this, I tried really hard to look nice y'all. I wore my hair down, did my makeup, even wore a dress. I'm feeling confident. 

I sit down. The class begins.


This is the first thing someone shouts. I sit there, not sure how to react. Immediately I want to cry a little, and then laugh, and then I remember thinking, "I can't wait to put this in my 30 minute scripted single camera  comedy one day that I will write, produce and be in."


Freaking New Jersey.

Of course I'm offended. I brush it off, get a slew of other descriptions which include, "fast food" "sweet" "heartland" "riding a horse" (what da freak? IT LOOKS LIKE I'VE MILKED SOMETHING RECENTLY I GUESS) 

So it's two weeks later, and I'm over being mad about it and now, the more I think of it, the more it makes sense. And you know what? I'm proud. I'm proud because even though little weirdos like Snooki come out of Jersey, so do other things that are much more wonderful. Like, the beach. I'm not talking guido beach, I'm talking the cute, wonderful, old-timey feel of New Jersey's Ocean City and Stone Harbor and Cape May and Wildwood.

Have you ever been to the shops at Cape May? Or how about that sunset at Cape May point? OR riding bikes in Wildwood as the July sun showers you? That feeling that you get from lying in the sun all day, the salty-stickiness of the ocean water clinging to your hair, the crunchy feel of a sun-burnt nose. The wonderful laziness of a summer night, retreating to the beach house with bare feet, getting ice-cream on the boardwalk and holding hands with someone nice and laughing with friends. 


And having a face that reminds people of New Jersey makes sense since I'm from Philly, and I'm proud of being from the East Coast. I'm proud of my Philadelphian blood. And New Jersey is great. It gave me so many wonderful things.

Like tons of family vacations where I never wanted to leave. Walking along the shore with my mom that one time it was just her and I and we decided to sneak away from everything for a few days and go down to the beach together. We collected sea-shells and talked about how one day I'd make it and I'd make sure she finally got the beach house she always wanted. (Mom, I'm still holding onto this and don't plan on letting it go). 

And that time when I couldn't find Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire anywhere and it was summer and I was with my family walking around in Cape May, desperately searching each store. And then there, in a store with birdcages and garden gems, I found it - a lone, random, out-of-place book display with a dozen copies of the Goblet of Fire. I remember sitting on the beach, devouring page after page of a book that was part of a series that quite literally, changed my life.

New Jersey reminds me of my grandpop. He passed away when I was in 8th grade, but he is one of the most important people in my life. I remember all the times my Grandmom and Grandpa packed my cousins, sisters and I up in their van and we trekked to the Jersey shore. How my Grandpop, Angelo Marchesani (a true South Philly Italian musician) would sit on his lawn chair wearing corduroy pants and an old letterman like jacket, big glasses and newsie hat to match and watch the ocean waves crash into one another. No matter how hot it was, he always wore this outfit. New Jersey reminds me of him.

New Jersey reminds me of my high school boyfriend and how great high school relationships can be. New Jersey reminds me of my friends, lying next to Laura and Jeane and realizing how rare it is to find people you can be your truest self around. 

Listen, New Jersey is great. Somehow this turned into a love letter to Jersey. But it's almost June and summer is coming and I'm so far from everyone I love. And I'm feeling a little nostalgic and homesick for the familiarity of the summer I know. California you're glamorous and wonderful and strange in your own way, but you're not the Jersey Shore. You're not Rita's Waterice, you're not Wawa coffee in the morning, you're not two-hour drives from Philly to the beach, you're not everything wonderful and special about the East Coast. 

So you know what? Having a face that reminds someone of New's not really so bad at all. 

....I couldn't resist.

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