Two weekends ago, my entire family on my mom's side spent our last weekend together in "pleasantville" aka Hackettstown, NJ. Situated in an antiquated little town and surrounded by lakes and the "Mucklands", Hackettstown has been and always will be my (and my Brothers's) version of absolute perfection. Here's why...
My grandparents, who were absolutely amazing people, moved to this sweet little town in the late 1950s and never left. They became local celebrities (aka teachers, church members, coaches, mentors and involved parents) and whenever my brother and I visited for holidays or summers as kids, we felt like we were a little famous as a result of our grandparents being so known around town. They raised their three daughters (my mom and Aunts) in this beautiful, tree lined town with creeks and parks and a Main Street. My brother and I idolized the tranquillity, safety, peacefulness and "small town" allure of Hackettstown our whole lives since we were the "city kids" from DC.
But this heartfelt Ode to Hackettstown is much more than just a mention of the beauty of its streets and nature. Hackettstown is where millions of happy childhood memories took place for me, my brother, our cousins and our family took place for so, so many years. I learned to ride my bike down Prospect Street and knew it would be safe as my aunt gave me a gentle push because there weren't ever too many cars. My cousin Stephen wooshed down the hills in the park behind my grandparents house so fast in his little snow suit one year when we got magically snowed in at Christmas. My twin "baby" cousins Mollie and Sean giggled and ran with their Easter baskets every year as we played Easter Egg Hunt and ran from the front stoop to the back yard, tackling cousins in our church clothes to get the most (empty!) eggs! My older cousin Josh and I perpetually played "tetherball" in the back yard until someone called us in to have an amazingly home cooked meal by my grandma. (We would later dare one another to do terribly disgusting pranks during these amazing home-cooked meals at the "kids table".)
The memories are countless. This is the place where I learned about how important family is, no matter what.
This is the place where I learned how to dig potatoes out of the garden, how to paint watercolors on the patio, where I learned how to sit in the shade and just listen to the silence and pet a happy old dog. Hackettstown, thank you.
So, last weekend as we drove away from our version of perfect, my brother and my hearts sank a little. We are "grown ups" and who have our own houses and our own versions of what will be "perfect" to some little ones someday. God bless you, sweet little town.
Note: to my family who still lives in NJ, don't worry, we'll still come to visit :)