Hoboken to the Hamptons

On October 15, 2020 I unpacked my boxes and unlocked the door to my Hoboken apartment. It symbolized change, opportunity, and, above all, freedom. A place entirely to myself. Well, one year later and that 750 square foot apartment has become much more than where I live— it’s become home, in every sense of the word. It’s where I feel safe and comfortable, a place that I miss when I’m gone. But it’s also where I built myself, something I didn’t anticipate when I initially signed the lease.

October 15, 2020

I arrived amid the pandemic, when the price was right but social distancing made crafting a social life from scratch near impossible. For my first six months as a Jersey resident, I felt isolated, despite my newfound sense of independence. I envisioned Hoboken as my future while simultaneously refusing to accept the Hamptons as my past. So, I attempted to sustain my Hamptons community while building a Hoboken one. Selfishly, I wanted to straddle the line of realities and make both places my own. And I did.

Today, as I walk the cobblestones of Court Street holding the latest issue of James Lane Post in hand, I’m reminded of all that I have built for myself since my move exactly one year ago. I’ve kayaked countless miles across the Hudson River with the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, celebrated City of Water Day with Fund for a Better Waterfront, went back to the 80s with the Hoboken Shelter, and tested my limits at the Hoboken City Challenge Race. Throughout that same duration, I wrote for and held a Weekly Wellness column with James Lane Post and AFLOAT USA, moderated a nutrition panel in East Hampton, and co-organized the inaugural Southampton Shop and Stroll to benefit the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. Somehow, someway, I kept the Hamptons close to my heart as I rooted myself in Hoboken’s mile-square city. 

Hoboken City Challenge Race

All the while, I transitioned out of a career as a traditional journalist and began my own business as a contract brand storyteller, working with clients from Hudson County to the Hamptons and everywhere in between (even down south to Virginia!). This has been my greatest achievement because it allowed me to connect communities through conversation, and it continues to fuel my passion for people every day.

with Thuyen Nguyen in East Hampton

When we look back on our lives it’s usually through rose colored glasses (psychologists refer to this as rosy retrospection). I’m not saying that this year didn’t come with its fair share of problems, or that I’m impervious to the realities of starting my own business. On the contrary, the initial struggles of my move propelled me forward and forced me to step out of my comfort zone, and I have grown in ways I may not even realize for months or years to come. 

So, cheers to me and my Hoboken-versary. May the next year bring even more memories and friendships, clients and community, from Hudson County to the Hamptons and everywhere in between. 

Hoboken’s Historic Cobblestone Court Street

The city of Hoboken, NJ is historic in nature, which was a weighted factor in my decision to move (that, and the sweeping city skyline view). So, it came as no surprise to find cobblestone streets, industrial brick buildings, and various charming structures riddled throughout the now modernized mile square city.

One street in particular captured my attention. It’s nestled between Washington Street and Hudson Street, a downtown alleyway with original cobblestone. For weeks I would pass it on my way to the waterfront walk, without seeing any signage or inclination as to its origins at all. In part, it looked like an extended back driveway. This, I came to learn, is Court Street.

It’s only seven blocks long, running from Newark Street to 7th Street, which makes it easy to miss.

“Court Street was laid out in 1804 by Colonel John Stevens as part of the original city plan,” the Hoboken government website explains. 

It “originally provided access to the residents’ mews or stables,” the Hoboken Historic Museum Walking Map Tour notes (#17 on their map, special thanks to Bill for his help). “The cobblestone paving stones served as ships’ ballast in the 1800s.”

Black and white film buffs will recognize the location as the setting for the 1954 film On The Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint.

Today, Court Street is just like any other Hoboken residential street, only with an off the beaten path charm and allure. Walk down it to find beautifully repurposed homes out of former carriage houses. One in particular was originally built in 1868 and housed the meeting location for the German Social club, the “Hudsonia Club”.

The former Hudsonia Club

Court Street acts as a roadway connecting the past into the present, one the community aims to preserve. Last month, in December 2020, Councilman Michael DeFusco announced a campaign to restore the original pavement.

Whether you’re a resident, new to the area (like myself) or need a dayscape, the next time you’re Hoboken be sure to wear comfortable flats and explore the historic Court Street.

Everyone’s Moving Out. So, Why Am I Moving In?

Both New York and New Jersey top the list as states with the most outbound moves in 2020. Ironically, I moved between them. 

When my newspaper dissolved due to COVID, along with it my steady paycheck, I picked up my suburban life from The Hamptons/Nassau County (I regularly bounced between the two) and rented an apartment in Hoboken, NJ. It turns out, I wasn’t alone. Over 3,000 NYC residents crossed over the Hudson River to the Hoboken and Jersey City areas. However, in contrast to my move, 6,500 city residents headed to my heartfelt East End community. 

So, why did I pick up my, seemingly much preferred, spacious life (personal backyard included) and head to the more condensed city of Hoboken during a pandemic? I needed a change, I wanted to grow, and I saw it as freedom. 

There’s No Stopping Change

Prior to the eternal lockdown we now seem to live in, I felt alone. Not in spirit but in physical distance. As a career writer, most to all of my work is done remotely and living in a suburb, where I had to drive to see anyone or do anything, was isolating. In early 2020 I was ready for a change of scenery. I needed to close the distances within my life, but I didn’t know how.

When COVID took down my newspaper it broke the thread that tied me to Long Island. I likely would have held onto that tread my entire life, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, creating excuse after excuse about why I had to stay. It was a fear of change, of the unfamiliar. So when the connection dissolved so did my reason to remain. Change was inevitable. Finally, in October of 2020, I put aside my fear of the unknown and headed to Hoboken.

An Opportunity For Growth

Stay in any single place for too long and eventually it becomes monotonous, ask anyone who travels. And for creatives, especially, routine can be lethal. While there was no shortage of community where I was, I hit a plateau in my writing. Ideas recycled themselves. Same story, different angle. Then when the pandemic hit, social distancing sent me into a creative dry spell. With nowhere to drive to I had no reason to leave the house. My already distanced social life was cut down to nothing. It became suffocating and my ability to advance, personally or professionally, drowned in loneliness. 

When I found my apartment in Hoboken I saw a whole new world of opportunities. I could walk to parks along the Hudson River for fresh air, pass countless [masked] faces and personalities on a daily basis, discover a whole new community. Heck, if I wanted, I could reinvent myself entirely (I haven’t, and won’t, but the possibility was there). Hoboken quickly became an empty vase that I’d fill up with new stories, connections, and memories. Plus, if I was lonely, or needed a new idea, all I had to do was walk out my front door.

An Apartment is Freedom

After living with housemates, and back home with my mother to save money, I thought I’d be lonely living alone. In a turn of events, I feel less alone than ever. 

My [roughly] 750 square foot apartment is freeing because it’s all mine. I decorated it, I’m in charge of all the expenses, and I am in full control of what goes on inside of it. I don’t have to share a single thing (only child syndrome) and it thrills me. As stressful as it can be at times, financially and emotionally during the pandemic, I designed a space that is comforting, quiet, and truly feels like home.

UNJUMBOLD: Travel Local

With the new year comes new discoveries. So, while many of us are unable to travel due to the pandemic, taking flight only in our minds, one Hoboken storefront invites customers to explore products from all over the world.


UNJUMBOLD, located at 257 1st Street, has an eye for detail and a heart for the different. Customers can find everything across self-care, home decor, baby, pet, artwork (including Hoboken’s very own, Ricardo Roig)— as well as organizational services for hire (for that messy closet you swore you’d tackle in the new year). Peruse the shelves and notice items from Canada, France, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Turkey, and across the United States. If you cannot travel physically, UNJUMBOLD will take you where you need to go in spirit. 

Partners in life and business, Michael Knight and John Forslund opened UNJUMBOLD on December 4, 2020. Knight comes from a lifelong background in retail, starting as a sales associate before growing into a corporate role. “I took all my knowledge and picked out all the parts that I’ve really enjoyed in my career and placed it into the store,” Knight explained.

Michael Knight [left], John Forslund [right]

Forslund shares a similar start, starting at Eddie Bauer at only 16 years old. Except, unlike Knight, he transitioned over to opening bars and restaurants. “I grew up the son of an avid home decorator, and the son of a home builder, so opening a business is in my blood!” Together, the two took on all of the opening’s responsibility themselves, from the shelves to the items that now stock them.

It is the brands themselves that takes center stage at UNJUMBOLD. Knight and Forslund carefully vet each product they carry. They look at where an item is made and how it’s made, ensure a company is fair trade and gives back to their community, and that no item can be found on Amazon. 

Beyond authenticity, UNJUMBOLD places a strong focus on black, women, and LGTBQ owned businesses. “We are about equal rights for all. We want to empower local communities; we want children to grow up seeing successful entrepreneurs and a thriving community,” Knight said. As a white, gay couple, Knight and Forslund are dedicated to raising social awareness around marginalized groups. “These types of businesses aren’t given the credibility they deserve. They deserve to get the same exposure as other brands. That comes with setting the right example and doing everything in our power to pave the path for others who aren’t inherently privileged.”

Forslund continued,  “We’re hoping to build a place the community feels comfortable coming to, to help them with their everyday home and lifestyle. We’re spending the most time in our homes. It’s our safe space. We want that home to feel comfortable and we’ve curated a range of products and services to do that.”

Products to love right now:

Skin Gourmet – RAW PURE WILD so pure you can eat it… seriously. 

UNJUMBOLD Sheets – Designed by Knight and Forslund. 600 thread count percale sheets. 

Rock Dispensers– The coolest way to dispense your favorite alcoholic beverages. 

Chunky Knit– feel it and fall in love.

Amore Diffuser– a Nikki On The Daily personal recommendation

Hoboken Sidewalk Sale and Food Crawl

The Hoboken Business Alliance (HBA) encourages you to stamp those passports, around Hoboken that is, with it’s visit-to-win passport program to support local restaurants and retailers in the mile square.

The “Shop and Dine Passport Programs” kicked off Friday, October 23 as an incentive to support local business. But it’s grabbed the attention of both locals and visitors alike with its “gotta catch em all” spirit. Fortunately, if you haven’t joined in yet there’s still time.

“Supporting the local business community and providing safe ways for residents and visitors to shop, dine, and explore Hoboken has been a priority since we launched earlier this year. The Food Crawl and Sidewalk Sales are a great way to continue the energy to support local this fall following our summer campaigns and programs,” said Gregory Dell’Aquila, President of the Hoboken Business Alliance, which was created by the Office of the Mayor and City Council as a commitment to support the local Hoboken community by stimulating business.

The Sidewalk Sales end this Sunday, November 1 but with Halloween weekend it’s the perfect way to continue that Booken spirit. Can’t spend the extra money right now? No need. Part of HBA’s effort includes business awareness, although any small purchase is appreciated to show support. Visit any any of the 27 participating retailers and collect a stamp, no purchase necessary. Once five or more stamps are collected you can turn in your completed collection for a chance to grab one of 12 gift card prizes.

Dell’Aquila continued, “Many people are missing their normal routines or trips they’re not able to take. With so many wonderful eateries and shops in the Mile Square, locals and visitors can always discover new places to enjoy and explore.”

As you collect stamps, with or without a purchase, this is a great opportunity to learn about local retailers you might’ve otherwise missed and keep them in mind for upcoming holiday shopping.

But all that [window] shopping is bound to build up an appetite. Dig into the Food Crawl at any of the 52 restaurants and eateries offering special $10 deals, or any regularly priced menu item, through November 6. The best part is, you can sit and stay or take it to go! Have five or more stamps on your passport? You could win any of the 25 gift card prizes.

“Hoboken has always been about community and the businesses are what keep our town thriving. That’s why we’re excited to give back and offer everyone even more reasons to shop and dine locally here in Hoboken,” Dell’Aquila said.

Are you ready to #GoBoken ? Visit www.hobokenalliance.com to view all participating businesses. You can download your passport directly online or pick one up in person at any business listed.

Sidewalk Sale winners will be announced by November 13 with two grand prize winners and 10 second-place winners, with a gift certificate to the retailer of their choice. Food Crawl winners will be contacted by November 25, and each will receive a $100 gift certificate to the eatery of their choice.