Again, I returned home, and found nothing as I had left it. Well, that is not entirely true. Many things were, in fact, exactly as I had last seen them. Big things: schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, houses themselves. But the roads are narrower than they were ten years ago, and distances are shorter. Hills are smaller. Ivy covers more walls. Landmarks are gone. There is no more ice cream. I don’t know the kids running in the neighborhood where once upon a time I would have been one of them.
I feel out of place where I used to feel right at home. Has the place changed that much, or have I? Once upon a time, I walked from school to Hebrew School and got cheap ice cream and passed a diner, a deli, a bakery, a grocery store, and apartment buildings. Now I would pass gourmet pizza, gelato, boutique clothing shops, and bistros more at home in, say, midtown Manhattan than the Jersey ‘burbs. Or so I thought, once upon a time. What do people do when they want a slice of pizza? What happens if you want an ice cream cone? No such thing, here in the land of the rich and un-famous.
I juxtapose this town with most of the towns I’ve seen in the last two months. Most towns are decrepit, run down, with more empty spaces than occupied storefronts. This town seems to be recession-proof if not recession-loving. More money is probably spent here in a day than in the entirety of most towns west of the Mississippi. And I bet the parking meters are still only ten cents. I want to know who works at these chi-chi restaurants on these suburban streets. High schoolers more mature and responsible than their age would suggest? Lifers? We all know there are plenty of those in New Jersey. Is this suddenly a destination for those aiming at the haute cuisine of New York, their suburban jumping-off point for big-tipping, high-fallutin’ waitstaff careers?
Has suburbia always been the new uptown?