Jersey girls and boys – what is it about sharing context?

I have a funny experience of connecting with others who grew up in New Jersey.  My husband has watched and commented on it and I didn’t even realize what was happening.  In one case I met a guy who ran a small winery in New Jersey who was about my age and grew up in the town where I went to high school.  We were standing around chatting and apparently without either of us noticing, we were so engaged in conversation that occasionally we would raise one elbow, like you do if you were doing the chicken dance, and gently nudge the other person with the elbow.  Yes, that does sound kind of strange, but then I had another experience.  I was in a yoga class in New York and I felt a connection with a woman about my age who was new to the class.  After a few sessions, we started to speak and before I knew it, we were doing the elbow nudge thing.  I became conscious of the physical contact, and I turned to her and said, “Are you from New Jersey?”  She got a bit defensive because she had not lived in New Jersey for some time and now lives in New York and hoped her accent was not so noticeable.  I assured her it was not the accent that gave her away, but rather how she elbowed me.  New Jerseyans can get teased about their accent, but probably what is funnier is the elbow nudging.  So what is the elbow nudging?  I think it is a natural occurrence of connection between two people who have so much shared history that is specific to growing up in a certain neighborhood.  We like to touch and the elbow nudge is a safe way to connect.

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