A Taste of My Youth

From the 7-9-10 edition of Hoboken’s Progress…

Growing up in the suburbs, there wasn’t always a whole lot to do during the age of boredom, also known as, underage.

Loitering was a youth movement. We loitered everywhere: people’s driveways, backyards, parks after hours—basically, if there was a sign that said, “No Loitering,” it distracted from the fact that it was really lame as to what we were really doing—passing the time because there was no where else for us to go. Hanging out under these signs just made it seem rebellious instead of pathetic. No sign, no loitering. That was just uncool.

Then there was the group of kids of had the prime real estate—the parking lot in front of the 7 Eleven. What more could you ask for: a place to park your car and crank New Found Glory or Linkin Park with all the doors open, adjacent to a store full of sickeningly sweet and salty munchies and soda and cigarettes (and other random toys that are infinitely amusing when you’re young and bored).

My sister and I didn’t roll with this parking lot crew, but we would look down as we passed them on our way to the soda machine to get our beloved fountain sodas, the only item common across the board among bored teens.

The Big Gulp. How did we ever get along without it? My sister, who has an affinity for chewing on straws, was the one who turned me into an addict. And now, to this day, now that I’m older and wiser, and not so much bored as stressed,  I find that when I’m on a deadline, or anxious for any reason, I crave for the simple comfort known as the fountain soda.

Everyone has their own list of “go-tos” when they need comfort. For some, maybe decadent or greasy items like onions rings or mac and cheese. For others, it’s curling up under a blanket to watch your favorite movie because you already know the ending, and can recite all the dialogue by heart.

Ever since moving to Hoboken from the ‘burbs, I have learned to go without this comfort, since there was no 7 Eleven before a few months ago. My sister and I tried hard to remedy this absence by sampling different fountain sodas up and down Washington, as if we were the directors of a fountain soda shuffle. As such connoisseurs of the fizzy delicacy, we know how each tap has a bit of a different flavor. We’ve chewed the straws of many a fountain soda from Qdoba, Panera, Five Guys, and so on, but it just wasn’t the same. We were searching for a phantom soda.

It wasn’t until the 7 Eleven on Fifth Street opened this past winter that the taste of true suburbia hit Hoboken.

After a stressful day last week, my sis and I decided to go for a walk, and of course, the evening commenced with a fountain soda in hand. And, just like in the good ol’ days, throngs of teenagers filtered in and out, only with no parking lot, they sat on the curbs. They are very resilient that way.

As I chewed on my  straw, I thought, although the sites and smells of Hoboken may always remind me of my 20s, thoughts of my teen years will always taste of Big Gulps of Diet Coke. It’s comforting to know that all I need is to take a walk up to the 7 Eleven on Fifth St. to help me get a taste of my suburban roots.

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