Since I have moved southward, I have become accustomed to having a supermarket within 2 minutes of my home and being able to go there at 3am. I expect delivery of everything from Chinese to Pizza to hamburgers and kebab. My mother in Raleigh can throw a rock from her house in five different directions and hit five different supermarkets. And convenience stores attached to gas stations?!?! Crazy talk. For the duration of my formative years, convenience stores were only found tacked on the end of a 5-store strip mall that has a video store and a post office, they weren’t well lit, the linoleum dated from 1948 and there was always a natural American (sure, a burnt out stoner who allows his stoner friends to steal twinkies and shit in exchange for bud) behind the counter. I was shocked at how nice it is not to have to wait 20 minutes for that same brand of American Stoner Boy to fill up your tank, even if it means pumping gas in the rain sometimes.
These details, however, do not get me to my point. The difference between New Jersey and many other places is space. As I drove for the first time down the Fairfax County Parkway, I was appalled at how much space there was on either side—that there wasn’t a K-Mart parking lot or something right up to the edge of the road. I recall commenting to VJ about it. They could widen this road if they were so inclined.
This thought has stuck with me and I hadn’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it meant until recently, but I have figured it out. New Jersey is a game of Sim City that has gone on too long:
The nice residential blocks are too far away from the commercial stuff. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get those residences by the Airport or the Industrial Zones as nice as you’d like them. Traffic is a nightmare, but you don’t want to have to tear down those nice Commercial blocks just to widen the road, and who in the hell figured we’d need a rail system?
That’s usually the point when you just start a new map. Those games aren’t fun anymore. I am by no means suggesting that New Jersey get wiped out, Dave, but I feel like it’s a nice explanation of the “little differences” that separate New Jersey from some of the newer games around.