I hate going into Morristown.
I know that this probably seems a little odd, or even harsh. But I cannot escape the overwhelming sense of dread I feel when I have to go there. It wasn't always this way, in fact, Morristown used to be one of my favorite places to go to.
I grew up in Mount Olive and my Grandmother, Rose DeCaro, lived on Wetmore Avenue in Morristown. My mother and her three sisters were raised in town and I have so many memories of the place it is hard to organize them sometimes.
We had so many family holidays filled with food and laughter around the dinner table they all meld together.
When Woolworths was in the center of town, my Grandmother and I would buy peanuts there and throw them to the pigeons in the park. Some days, we would walk through Epsteins, but we rarely bought anything, as the prices were always out of reach.
I used to look forward to seeing the decorations on the Green for Christmas. Or going to the Farmer's Market.
When I got my learner's permit to drive I would take the ride out to my grandmother's house by driving through Chester and Mendham and winding into Jockey Hollow.
Every Wednesday after school. Its how I learned to drive. And once I had a license, I would use it to go visit my grandmother at least once a week.
After college, I moved in with my grandmother in Morristown while I obtained my master's degree. When I took my first reporting job at the Daily Record, I remember her being so proud. She loved Morristown. My grandmother had spent the majority of my life filling me with wonderful memories that were tied into the town she loved so much.
Our impromptu dinners at the diner, or Friendly's or even the Speedwell Avenue Pizza Hut became some of my favorite habits.
Slowly, things changed. Woolworths closed. Epsteins closed and piece by piece life separated me from some of things I used to do in town.
And then, in October of 2010, my grandmother died.
My grandmother was a remarkable woman who was widowed young and ran an ironing busiess out of her house to make her ends meet. And she worked into her 90's. She was stubborn, and strong and smart and giving. She was also my best friend.
I miss her every single day.
I wish I could go to Woolworths and pick up another container of peanuts to feed the birds. If I could take her to Epsteins I would max out my credit cards to buy out the store for her.
The places of my youth are gone and the person who was so integral in allowing me to see Morristown through her eyes is gone too.
There is a new store where Woolworths used to be. There are new condos where Epsteins stood as a silent sentinel to the heart of the town. There is a new family in my grandmother's house on Wetmore Avenue.
I understand, academically, that this is a part of life.
But the town is so linked to my memories of my Grandmother, it is difficult for me to not feel overwhelmed when I have to go there.
Seeing the town now reminds me of all that isn't there.
And I wonder if that is ever going to change.