Missing the Northeast: Missing the little things

Last month, I began discussing a few obstacles to living away from home that lead to me missing the Northeast.

Honestly, when I sit down and think about them, the obstacles can occasionally seem overwhelming.

Therefore, I wanted to use another column to help lay them out.

Take a Walk

Although there are admittedly fewer trees, less grass and fewer parks in the Northeast – partially due to a denser population – than many parts of New Jersey with which I am familiar, one thing I have always liked about my hometown is that you can pretty much walk anywhere.

Of course, just like everywhere else, Northeast Philadelphia has its fair share of highways and high-traffic streets that are difficult to cross. However, just about every street has a sidewalk.

It may seem like a trivial point, but you would be surprised how few streets in northern New Jersey have sidewalks. Of course, most of these towns have sidewalks in and around their downtown areas. But, other than that, you’re pretty much forced to use another form of transportation other than your own two feet.

To make matters worse, many of these towns don’t have streetlights (other than the downtown area, of course). Don’t get me wrong; it’s probably great for residents to cut down on the light pollution. However, it makes it difficult and unsafe for people to attempt to walk in the sidewalk-less streets at night.

I saw it as a rite of passage back when I was in third or fourth grade to be allowed to trek a few blocks by myself to a friend’s house on a Saturday afternoon — an opportunity that would have been difficult to come by if there weren’t any sidewalks around. Additionally, not having sidewalks would have made it a little less safe as I walked to and from Archbishop Ryan High School as a teenager.

No Wawa

It’s funny how much Philadelphians rely on Wawa. But it’s terrifying how much you go into withdrawal when there isn’t one around.

Sure, there are 7-Elevens and Quick Cheks, but there is something about Wawa that makes it irreplaceable. Perhaps it’s the freshly made sandwiches. Perhaps it’s the lemonade iced tea.

The problem is the sheer lack of Wawas in northern New Jersey. The first one just opened a few miles away from my job, and I believe there are plans to open additional shops in the area.

For the time being, though, I guess I’ll just have to stick to making my own sandwiches and mixing together my own proportions of lemonade and iced tea.

Missing the Northeast is a column written by Stephen Wilson, a former Northeast resident who moved to New Jersey for work. You can read his column on the last Monday of every month.


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