NJ vs. CO, originally posted Aug. 17, 2009

As we’re settling in and getting used to life in the foothills, we’re starting to notice the little differences between NJ and CO.  I’m also wondering when I’m going to stop thinking of NJ as home.  As in, “it’s 11:30 here, which means it’s 1:30 at home.”  I lived there for 36 years, I guess it will always be home.

One of the obvious differences is the weather.  Everyone in Jersey is complaining about the humidity, which we have little to none.  It gets hot, being closer to the sun really makes the sun stronger, but without the humidity it’s more bearable.  Of course the lack of humidity means dry skin, but I’ll take dry skin over humidity.  We get these rainstorms almost daily, right around 6pm.  They usually come in from the west, so you can look at the mountains to see what the weather is like, and you can usually see the rain pouring down over the mountains, which is cool.  At night, if you look to the east, you can see these awesome lightening storms.  When it does rain during the day, it’s just a passing storm.  We don’t normally get days where it just rains all day and it’s grey and gloomy, like back east.  When the storms come through around 6, the sun is heading down toward the mountains, and often it’s bright and sunny, yet the rain is pouring down at a diagonal, with the storm clouds directly overhead.  Very bizarre.

Another obvious difference is the people are so much nicer, and not that almost fake niceness you get down south that can be cloying.  An example is getting my driver’s license.  The place was pretty busy, I waited for about a half hour which isn’t too bad for a Friday morning.  Everyone in the office was really nice, even the woman taking care of me said she was getting a headache yet she wasn’t crabby and mean.  I didn’t even need anything to prove I live in CO – all I needed was a form of ID with my full name, which my NJ license doesn’t have so I brought my passport.  I didn’t need any utility bills or anything with my name and address, and I did need that to get a library card!  I answered a few questions, did a quick eye test since I wear contacts, paid my $21 and got my picture taken.  They gave me a temporary paper license and will mail the card in a few weeks.  Easy peasy.  The only slight delay was waiting for a supervisor to come out to review the paperwork but once she came out it was quick.  So yeah, getting my license was a piece of cake and the people there were all nice.

Something I’m also getting used to is the phone numbers – in NJ a few years ago they instituted 10 digit dialing, so you have to dial the area code and 7 digit number.  Here, you don’t need the area code, so when I give it with my phone number people look at me like I’m crazy.  I’m also getting used to the area code – we were 973, now we’re 970.  So I’m constantly writing 973 and crossing it out.  Since I do have to dial the area code from my cell phone, not doing it from the regular phone just feels weird.  I mentioned this to the lady at the driver’s license office and she said in Denver they do have 10 digits, so with my luck by the time I’m used to not dialing the area code, it will become statewide or something and I’ll have to get used to it all over again.

Here’s something else I’m not used to – people, especially kids, don’t wear bike helmets as a general rule.  They’re required for kids but people don’t seem to care.  In NJ you never saw a kid without a helmet, unless they were a too-cool-for-school teenager, and rarely do adults ride without.  Maybe it’s because people drive like lunatics there, I don’t know.  We do still make the kids wear them but TBO, seeing the neighborhood kids without, is starting to protest.  TBO wants to ride his bike constantly and he met a pretty big independence milestone the other day – he rode his bike around the block by himself!  In NJ he couldn’t do it – not because we wouldn’t let him, though we wouldn’t because it was about a mile and there were no sidewalks, but he physically couldn’t.  It was too hilly.  The route he takes is short, a few houses up from us there’s a windy path down to the top of a cul-de-sac, he goes to the cross street, turns left, then turns left again to pass 6 or so houses up to our street.  It takes him less than 10 minutes and it’s all sidewalk, but I was still a bit nervous the first time he went.  He needs to get some confidence before we can take the training wheels off so hopefully this will help with that.  It’s funny because I learned to ride without training wheels when I was 5 or 6, and rode around in the street and all over the neighborhood, yet the thought of letting him do that scares me.  There’s a 5 year old boy 2 houses away and he rides across the street, all around, without training wheels (or helmet), and the thought of TBO doing that is kind of freaking me out.  So his jaunts around the block are helping me get used to that idea too!  Unfortunately TBO riding his bike means TLO wants to ride his tricycle and he doesn’t quite have pedaling down yet, which means one of us has to push him.  We got the Radio Flyer bike with the push handle for just that reason, but it’s still a bit of a pain.  We have the old 14″ bike that was TBO’s so we may see how TLO does on it this weekend.

The final thing in my list of Colorado oddities is meth is a big deal around here.  When we bought the house we had to sign a disclosure that the house did not have a meth lab, and the realtor was surprised we didn’t have that disclosure in NJ.  There are PSAs all the time on TV about the dangers of meth, kind of reminds me of the “I learned it by watching YOU!” pot ads that were big in the 80s, which we still quote all the time in our house.  Maybe NJ does have a meth problem and I’m not aware of it, but it’s definitely a new thing for us.

So that’s my list, after living here for 2 weeks.  I wonder what else I’ll come up with… I’m sure winter will bring a whole new set of differences!

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