Time to grow up
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Time to grow up

I still think that I am 16 years old. I am that individual who is trapped in the ’80s. My favorite musician is Rick Springfield and I drag my husband to see him in concert whenever I can trick him into it. My kids know the words to his songs, and the words to many other songs of that genre. I only recently threw out clothing that I had gotten as gifts at my sweet-sixteen party. Pathetic, yes. True, unfortunately.


Banji Latkin Ganchrow says, "This picture was taken somewhere between Ronald Reagan and motherhood."

Growing up in Bergen County, I have been privy to the many changes that have occurred up and down route 4. The Alexander’s parking lot where I learned to drive is now Ikea and other assorted chain stores. The Garden State Plaza, which used to be quite the scary place on a Saturday night, is now a mecca of fine retail. Paramus Park (sorry, I am on route 17 now) got rid of the fountain where my siblings and I threw in many a coin. They also got rid of the store that pierced just about everyone’s ears that I know. Route 4 itself has changed. Did I ever, in my wildest dreams, think that they would get rid of the cloverleaf from hell? Not only that, but the merge from Saddle River Road used to be right into the left lane — the fastest lane of all. Man, if you could learn how to drive with that merge, figuring out how to use your sideview mirrors, you were set for life!

All of these changes happened and I just went along with them. After all, all the landmarks of my adolescence were still there. But then they weren’t. I was thinking about this the other day and then it hit me. The three places that had always been there, that had basically defined my youth, were gone. Closed. Moved. The Frisch School. The Forum Diner. And the Tenplex. Gone. Together. All within months of each other. Insanity. What are the chances that the high school you went to, the diner you weren’t allowed to eat at, and the movie theater that we went to all the time would all disappear off of the highway, some disappearing forever? (Unless, of course, you will need to buy a new Jeep.)

I know that my high school is now located in a magnificent facility on Century Road — ironically, just a hop, skip, and jump away from my boys’ elementary school. I know that the movie theater is now attached to the mall. It is gorgeous. I walked in there and was looking around as if I had just gotten off the boat at Ellis Island. I know that my world needs to keep changing and adapting to the year we are actually in and not the year I think that I am still in. But I still cannot believe the coincidences.

When I see my friends from high school, I think we still look the same. Fortunately, I am taller than most and they cannot see the gray hairs on top of my head. Wrinkles? No way. Not quite sure whose kids are living in our houses, though — no, wait, those are ours. It is ‘007. I am so grateful for where I am today. Would I go back to the ’80s if I had the chance? Questionable. But these times, they are a changin’.

Banji Latkin Ganchrow lives in Teaneck.

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