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Breaking Out of the ‘Jersey Bubble’ + Remembering What Matters

I strongly believe that our busy and complicated lives tend to put us in a bubble. The same routine every day, the same scenery everyday. One easily forgets there’s “a great big world out there.”

Last week, I went to Arizona for the first time to visit my closest cousin, his wife and his two kids (also my cousins.) I don’t like layover flights, so I decided to take a direct flight to Phoenix and drive the hour and a half drive to Tuscon.

I took a late flight and “desert dark” is very different from “Jersey dark.” There are no lights on the highways in the Arizona desert. It is pitch black. While the 80 mph speed limit was a welcome change, I still had to pay special attention since it was a new place.

The landscape we are used to seeing while driving in NJ is the back of another car in traffic. This is what it looks like out there.

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Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media

This is a typical view from the backyard of a house.

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Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media

The canyons up close are amazing. I took a tour of Sabino Canyon.

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Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media

Sunsets go a little something like this.

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Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media

While I was out there, I tried a Sonoran hot dog and the Mexican food was the real deal. I was at a diner where complete strangers talked to me. My typical “Jersey skepticism” went up, but the fact of the matter is, they’re just nice. The slower pace takes some getting used to, but it reminded me how fast paced we operate here. Granted, it’s a way of life, but it was a nice change to slow down for a little bit.

The most important part of my trip was spending time with my family. My cousin is originally from north Jersey and moved to Arizona seven years ago. And for seven years I said “I’m coming out to visit.” It never happened. He and his awesome wife had their first child, and then another. I always said to myself “Work is crazy, life is crazy, I am crazy.” (True story) Finally, I said, “screw it, I’m going to Travelocity and booking this trip today.” I am glad I did.

Meeting my 3 year old cousin and bonding with him for a weekend, holding my 3 month old cousin, spending time with family that are a big part of my life, that is really all that matters. Family. The biggest life issues or work problems seem tiny when you step out of “the bubble” and realize there’s a lot to see and a lot to do in life. I love Jersey, but it took some time away to prioritize and start enjoying what I take for granted sometimes.

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