One of my favorite things about living in Jersey is the collection of small towns dotted across the state. Within 30 minutes, I can escape to another landscape: a beach town on the shore, a rural village in the south, a mountainous valley to the north. On weekends, I try to take advantage of these close proximities. This past weekend was one of them.
When I first moved to Princeton, I quickly became obsessed with Lambertville, N.J, a 30-minute drive down the Delaware River. This quirky town has streets of shops, restaurants and art galleries. Across the bridge you’ll find New Hope, Pa., where an even more bustling community resides.
In October 2013, M and I went to New Hope for an evening and found ourselves in a bar called John and Peters. Over cheap beers, we discovered one of our favorite New Jersey duos — Nalani and Sarina. They were the opening act, followed by an acoustic guitar player I don’t remember. Probably because Nalani and Sarina were so unique.
The two are twins and have a sort of poppy vibe, but I wouldn’t say that defines them. Instead, it is the way they play in tune with one another — their movements, their harmonies, their notes. They can take a dull and quiet space and turn it into a lively nook you don’t want to leave. Even when they play the ukulele — which is always silly when anyone plays them — you sit on the edge of your seat. They are unpredictable and truly embody an artist’s love for their craft.
I’ve been following their journey since that fall, staying connected on Instagram and Facebook. They recently posted about playing at Stangl Factory, a cool artist’s village up in Flemington, N.J. We decided to go — why not — and drag our friend Jenn along. It was remarkable to see the difference a year and a half makes to a band. These two were far tighter vocally, even more in sync and both had an unwavering stage presence. Keep in mind, they were incredible to start — so now they just seem more robust than ever.
After the show, we excitedly told them about our engagement, and they shared in our joy. Once the moment had passed, and we were on the ride home, I thought back to that first night we spotted them. They were playing this song — I think with the title “cliche” — and they pointed us out in the crowd. I remember laughing in that moment, thinking: wow, they just signaled us out like they knew us. It made me feel home in a very immediate way.
It’s moments like these when I realize that in the past two years, I’ve created a little space here. I know people, their stories, the ways they have changed. It’s pretty remarkable, this thing called time, how it seems to move so slowly and then all at once just hits you.
I had this kind of moment on Saturday. I realized that, in such a short span of time, I have become part of a regional fabric. It may be just a tiny thread, and I may not be here long, but I’ve somehow woven myself into this place.