I can't remember the first time I ever drove down the New Jersey Turnpike, as either driver or passenger. It's just been one of those staples in my life, like pot roast or sunscreen. I have so many memories about going up and down... like the day I drove to Newark for my flight attendant interview; the first time my mother and I drove to Rutgers, both to tour the campus and when I moved in freshman year; thinking that my "Voldemort" was the one when we drove to see the Statue of Liberty in August, 2001; driving with my sister to my grandmother's funeral; today, rocking out to Weezer. The New Jersey Turnpike is an epic part of the northeast, and has an illusive part in American pop culture along with other roads like route 66 or the 405.
When we were either sophomores or juniors at RU, my roommate with whom I also went to high school, came to my house on a hot August day, we loaded my crap into her car, and drove off to the turnpike and up to the banks of the old Raritan. I'd never felt more grown up or important or empowered cruising along at 70 mph (it was a bit of a Japanese jalopy, we all know the real speed limit is 80). It was one of those cheesy movie moments that make the open hearted weepy, complete with some Britney songs blaring, I'm sure. But that moment, and those other precious ones like holding my college boyfriend's hand and playing pidittle, or driving home knowing I was about to become a flight attendant for a legacy airline, that's what the turnpike's all about.