Monday, October 21, 2013

Places in Our Hearts
It's funny how there are places that work their way into our hearts and reside there long after we've left them. Though I spent my childhood in Pennsauken, NJ, it is Haddonfield, the town my family moved to when I began middle school, that I think of as my home town. It was in Haddonfield where I learned to love writing and books and theatre, pursuits that were admittedly rooted in elementary school plays and trips to the Pennsauken Library with my dad, but that were honed and cherished during my time at HMHS.

I left Haddonfield for Lewisburg when I was 17, leaving my parents and sister behind as I morphed from Jersey girl to Pennsylvania college student. Little did I know that I would adopt Pennsylvania as a permanent home, and that not just the Bucknell campus, but Lewisburg itself would become one of those places to which I love to return. I grew from a teenager to a young adult during my years there, continuing to pursue music and studying first psychology, then education -- subjects that continue to influence my life three decades later.

And though I grew up less than two hours from the shore (and we made a trip "down the shore" nearly every summer), I didn't grow to love the beach until I was a mother. Initially we took trips there because my husband liked the beach, but over time, I came to appreciate that peace and relaxation we enjoyed in "the quiet resort" town of Bethany Beach, Delaware. I felt a little like a traitor, growing attached to a beach town that wasn't in New Jersey, but the tranquility we discovered in our adopted beach town was enough to assuage my Jersey girl guilt.
I've had the opportunity to visit two of these three places this month, heading to Lewisburg the first week of this month and to the beach for the second weekend. It seems frivolous to make these trips during the school year when our schedules are already a bit crazy, but the fact is, that's when we need them the most. Trips to places we love never fail to rejuvenate -- even when it rains most of the weekend as it did for our trip to the beach. The change of pace and the change of scenery give tacit permission to simply relax and "be" instead of cramming the weekend full of "things" and accomplishments.

My parents no longer live in Haddonfield, and even when we make trips "home" to visit them, we rarely get to Haddonfield. Silly, really, since it's a short trip from my parents' condo to downtown Haddonfield, but we never seem to make the time.

Fortunately, through the wonder of social media, I get a little taste of home whenever I talk with high school friends on Facebook, though they, too, are scattered across the country and beyond. But no matter where we live or how old we are, pieces of the places that have formed us (for better or for worse) travel with us, shaping us and influencing us beyond the boundaries of the places we call home.

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