October 8, 2013

Lancaster Central Market

Some of my favorite memories from my early teenage summers in Lancaster, PA revolve around Central Market, the downtown farmers market. Our camp RAs would round us up for a Saturday morning outing, and we would hop on down to the market, gazing with curiosity at the Amish farmers who had set up their booths and weaving through the aisles in search of the best cinnamon bread of all time. Fresh produce and baked goods wouldn't have typically awed my thirteen-year-old self, but there was something about Central Market that won me over.

I was nervous when I went back, fifteen years later. What if wasn't as I remembered? What if it was boring or terrible? What if it didn't have that cinnamon bread that I had once loved so much? My memories were surely romanticized, of that I have doubt, but I feared that maybe I had let myself get lost in my daydreams and would be sorely disappointed by reality.

I entered Central Market with hesitation, unsure of what would happen once I walked through the brick facade and entered the rows of vendors. My first impression was that it was so much smaller than I remembered, and my heart sank a little. But then I turned my head to the left, and I remembered walking down that same row fifteen years earlier, and my heart started to feel giddy. I knew this place. And I'm pretty sure it knew me.



There were new vendors, of course. I'm sure things have moved around a bit in fifteen years. Hipsters have since come into existence and found their footing right alongside the Amish, which was unexpected yet so right in that marketplace setting. We found Stoltzfus Bakery, which I'm pretty sure was there when I was a teenager, and spent a few minutes chatting with one of the owners, Daniel (so nice!).

 
It was nice to see the fresh produce displayed so beautifully, and the low prices amazed us so much that we ended up doing our veggie shopping for the week while we were there. Mmm, delicious green beans!
 

We made our way through the rows of stalls, drifting from booth to booth, and I knew that it was right to come back here. My memories might have been incomplete, and I couldn't have known how it would have changed since those teenage days, but being there with the hubs made everything click together. This market had everything it needed to have-- no more, no less. And while I'm not sure whether the cinnamon bread was the same kind I enjoyed way back when, it was still a treat to have.

That's the thing, I guess. It would fulfill my nostalgia to have things be just the same, but no matter how much we reach into the past, things can never truly be as they were. That's okay, though. Sometimes what you end up with is just as wonderful as what you had. Central Market will always have a place in my heart.



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