Last summer I did something I thought I’d never ever do – I went to my high school reunion.
It’s the oddest thing but during the past few years, we’ve all been finding each other again. This is most definitely a very weird reaction to reaching the latter part of your middle age of life. Not that all of us have separated from each other. Among the advantages of living in Bergen County is that we’re next door to one of the greatest cities in the world – New York City. There’s a lot here to make you stay when you have Manhattan in your back yard.
However the world is also a big place with plenty of opportunities and places to see. Many of us moved far away. I keep in touch with some of my closest friends. I recently connected with others. Its been great but it’s also got me thinking about what it was like to grow up in Bergen County and what’s changed and remained the same since then. I guess it’s natural to go to a high school reunion when you begin such introspection.
Life in Bergen County is a combination of many things. There’s the commuting morning, relaxed day and busier late afternoons and early evenings. Saturdays are bustling and because we have “blue laws” from many years ago that do not allow most shopping on Sundays, Sundays are quiet. That part of Bergen County is the same as when I was growing up.
What’s changed here is the number of homes and families we have – the increase in both has been tremendous. Real estate has been a big growth industry here with almost all available land that could be developed gobbled up by builders. Today it’s common to see an older home knocked down so a new one can be built. This is because there are no large tracts of undeveloped land left. Along with this development came a lot of diversity. There are so many different cultures here that are well represented. When I was growing up this was not so much the case. However, this greater diversity has maintained the vitality and economic health of our area.
What remains the same is our small town suburban lifestyle. People still come here to buy a home and raise their family. There are just more of us with a greater variety of backgrounds. I can still go to my local downtown shopping district and bump into people I know. There are still stores here that we call “institutions” because they’ve been here for generations. We still have Saturday football games, baseball in the spring but now we also have added soccer in the fall.
So when I met my classmates last summer at my high school reunion, we shard a lot of memories, opened up that high school yearbook and laughed at those young people inside those pages. We were amazed to find that although much had changed, much still remained the same. For over the years people have come and always will come to live in Bergen County for the lifestyle and American values that it represents and maintains.