Monday, March 13, 2006

I actually had fun in Sussex County today

Lately, I've had mixed feelings about being home.
Lots of jumbled thoughts I'm going to try to communicate. To make sense it will probably have to be edited sometime.
I used to always love the area I come from--rural North Jersey. It sounds like an oxymoron. I've always felt this area was unique. Quirky, beautiful, peaceful, so many things.
Lately, I'm starting to see it as outsiders do.
After living somewhere else for awhile, I can finally catch glimpses of how others might see this place.
For example:
Spring Street in Newton, or the Antique Mill in Lafayette: Quaint
Stokes State Forest, esp. various lookout points from the Appalachian Trail (Sunrise Mtn, Kittattinny Ridge): Paradise
But most of what you see from our "highways": A dump!
Especially driving on 23! The landscape, stripped of trees, looks like some kind of parched, abandoned field, littered with UGLY buildings, now falling apart, where I swear, every time I drive by there is a new esoteric business.
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I also noticed, recently, that an outsider might notice how many of the local roads are dotted with fake flower crosses, memorials of fatal car accidents. The worst is Clove Road in Montague. I swear, you can't go anywhere on that road without seeing them. It's eerie and morbid--like fluttering, pastel-colored warnings. Half the time, we ignore the warnings, like ghost stories.
And then I also noticed the sign at the mouth of my street: an ancient, faded, rust-eaten sign DANGER FALLING ROCKS 15 MPH. One sees this sign and then proceeds down a long, steep hill. It occurred to me today how disturbing this would be to someone from, say, Middlesex County.
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None of this had anything to do with my title. Despite these semi-depressing realizations, I did have fun in Sussex County today. I ran some important errands, which was satisfying, so that I didn't feel like I was wasting my time window-shopping this afternoon at the places I used to frequent when I was in high school. So much has changed in such a short time. In some ways, I think, "Progress is good," but in others, what I am thinking of as "the gentrification" of Sussex County (don't know if that's an appropriate word, I'll look into that later) kind of disgusts me. Rather than augmenting the things that would make this area attractive to outsiders (especially outsiders with money), franchises and housing developments are being piled onto the open spaces that really are the area's assets.
As long as they don't touch the state forests, parks, and wildlife areas....
But I did have fun. I walked around Spring Street and the antique mill, I went to Kittattinny State Park, and then at night, I went to the Sussex Queen Diner and met up with some of my oldest and best friends. It was like I crammed in some of the quintessential Sussex County experiences into one day.
What's sad is that I never fully explored the area, and now I'm already starting to forget the places I used to know so well. Should I try to remedy that, try to complete my exploration, or just move on with my life?
Tomorrow I plan to go back to Spring Street, because the thrift store should be open, and possibly check out a part of Andover with which I'm not all that familiar...
Oh, and the GOMOW update for the day: Absolutely NO work on my thesis done! Instead, I had fun! (Good.) Tomorrow, however, I'd like to do a little of both.
[Note: GOMOW stood for Get Out of My Own Way. It described a series of resolutions for 2006. It appears I didn't write about this in Blogger, but in LiveJournal, and then failed to include a definition in Blogger. I'll try to fix this soon.]

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