After the news of the ten-week winter break came to light, I was not too happy. The thought of being at home for that long, after being isolated in my home from March to August with no contact with my college friends, makes me sad and anxious. While school is stressful and hectic, especially now, being at home doing who knows what for ten weeks is even more stressful. I’ll miss my friends. I’ll miss the snow-covered dome in December. I’ll miss my bed (yes, I like my twin XL bed in my dorm better than my bed at home; amazon mattress toppers can work wonders). Basically, I will miss being a college student, and I don’t want to resort to my high school self when I get home.
But, there is nothing I can really do about it. So, I have decided to write a letter to my hometown in order to rekindle my love for the small town in South Jersey that I call home.
People often define my town of Haddon Heights as the town adjacent to the wealthy and pretentious town of Haddonfield, or the town that is overshadowed by the large town of Cherry Hill. I’ll admit it, when people ask me where I’m from I say, “Oh, a really small town in South Jersey… you’ve probably never heard of it… but it is 10 minutes over the bridge from Philly!” While it may be easier to group Haddon Heights into a group of small towns in South Jersey, this does not show my appreciation for my humble town of about 7,000 people.
Station Avenue, the heart of the town, glimmers with life yet calms me with its quaint sense of comfort. I drive over the train tracks that I used to put pennies and quarters on, right before a train passed, so that they would flatten (don’t try this at home… or do, I won’t tell you what to do). I pass Carol’s Candy Corner where I would stop during scavenger hunts. I see Cabana to my right, the water ice and ice cream shop that is located underneath the apartment my family lived in when I was born. On the same street is Ralph’s Pizza, whose angry workers remind me of post-Friday night basketball game dinners in middle school. The white gazebo next to the train station strikes up memories of late-night hangouts.
On the south side of town, I can smell DelBuono’s famous rolls on the short walk from my house to my cousin’s house only a few blocks away. I walk along the creek, or as my dad and I call it, the crick, where I remember the story of my dad as a kid walking through the large pipe (most likely an old sewer pipe), which he believes is the reason he got meningitis. On the way, I pass the park where I spent the orange and yellow days of fall sliding and swinging with my cousins. I pass Dead Man’s Hill where I used to spend my much-anticipated snow days sledding and making snowmen, followed by a mug of hot chocolate at my cousins’ house.
All of these places mean nothing to you. They seem like everyday, run-of-the-mill mom-and-pop shops that you can find in any small town. However, the difference with these places is that they are landmarks to me. They are part of my childhood: part of my life.
Although I am still not thrilled about the seemingly arduous winter break that awaits me, I can say that I am excited to go visit my favorite bagel shop, to see my eighth grade teacher walking her dog around town, to visit my baby cousins on my daily walks, and I guess to be home, once again.