Growing up in Cherry Hill


Gia Gupta growing up in Cherry Hill while getting involved in the Cherry Hill High School East Girls Tennis Team, the Cherry Hill High School East newspaper, and more.

In the slightly altered words of Emily Dickinson, “[Home] is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”

It is the neverending song; the never-ceasing-to-exist melody, sometimes hiding, yet cushioned by the assurance that it is always there, even when the welcome mat gets dusted. A place of moments and memories, comfort and warmth, new beginnings, the stories we will tell of the past – the good old days.

Is it the person who makes the home – bringing meaning to the memories and giving the voice to the lyrics? Or is it the home that builds the person – the chance to make the memories, the foundation of a life story?

I have made Cherry Hill my home. I have made a mark in this suburb, a mixture of happy-go-lucky neighborhood adventures, the-time-we-were-infinite friendships, an-idea-brought-to-life newspaper clippings, and the perpetual in between. Blended in a stroke textured with years of growing up in one place, one oh-so-special place.

Cherry Hill has built me. It has given me the neighborhood, the friendship, the newspaper, the paintbrush. It has given me the Cherry Hill High School East newspaper, the Cherry Hill High School East Girls Tennis Team. It is this one place, this one repeatedly singing tune, that has given me the once upon a time stories, the memorabilia locked away in time capsules, the background to my first steps, words, tears and laughs.

I have tied my entire life thus far to one place, which is scary to even reflect on. This one place holds all of the crests and lows; the breakdowns and the ecstasy; the beginnings and the ends. A constant cycle of life and it all takes place in Cherry Hill. I am where I am, so is where I am who I am? Does this place define me? In some ways it does, but when I leave, am I leaving a past identity behind with it? Something tells me, perhaps a ceaseless echo within, that when I leave behind this place, I will keep with me the home.

Thank you Cherry Hill for giving me the trails that gave me mosquito bites and stinging tears, the park that gave me Holi and echoing cheers, the house that gave me love and radiant warmth, and for the school that gave me a new identity and sense of self worth.

This home is open arms reminding me of memories and old times. It is a Horcrux to my past and the possibility of my future. I know that while the future will bring change, the past won’t. This home is my past, yet it is the future that brings the past all of its glory.

I am still molding my home, both the metaphorical and blatantly existent. If home is in the heart of the beholder, maybe as I start to run away it simply grows stronger, never quite leaving the confines of my beating urge for belonging. It only grows larger to include new places, new memories, and new stories, never quite leaving the confines of my palpitating urge to call a place a home.

And once again in the slightly altered words of Emily Dickinson,

“I’ve heard [my home] in the chillest land – And on the strangest Sea.

– Yet – never – in Extremity, it asked a crumb of me.”