I was twelve when my heart first skipped a beat for New York City.
It was summer, and as my parents did for two weeks every July, they had shipped me and my sisters to Long Island to visit our cousins. By this particular summer however, these cousins were old enough to be working and were out of the house most days caddying golf clubs at the local country club. So, as we were the only kids around during daylight hours, how to go about keeping entertained was more or less up to us. Days usually consisted of getting waterlogged playing Marco Polo in the pool or hanging out in the basement with board games and a boom box, sometimes a walk to the mini golf course and as often as possible getting an Italian ice. It was our typical, easy pre-teen summer fun, just in a different place. Typical, except for the day that came once during each of these summers when our aunt would surprise us with a trip into the city to see a Broadway show and have lunch at somewhere like HoJo’s in Times’ Square.
I think it might have been the year we went to see A Chorus Line. I’m still singing “One, singular sensation…” So it was that, followed by a grilled cheese and a milkshake all in the middle of the most buzzing metropolis I had ever laid eyes on. What a day! I fell head over heels. It would be another six years before it was time for me go off to college, but already I knew—I would be going to New York. It was the beat, the buzz, the people everywhere. I had to be a part of it.
2010, more than a decade since first arriving and I’m still here.
The only thing is… All of a sudden here isn’t Manhattan. Thirteen years as a New Yorker—save for my brief stint as a Jersey girl following my year abroad—and I’ve never not lived in this borough. My love has always been for this island, despite the continuous cacophony in the streets, the evilly beautiful shop windows tempting me to spend money I wish I had, the two-room studio I called ‘home’ for too long and the partner rent check that on more than one occasion kept me from sleep, tossing and turning with anxiety. To me New York City life has always meant Manhattan. I’ve favored the commute by foot rather than the commute by crowded train. I like the Romana-style pizza place that charges five dollars a slice, the fact that there’s a West Side Market, Gourmet Garage or Citarella on every corner and a Duane Reede or a bodega with cheap, fresh flowers on just about every other corner. I like sitting on the roof for sunset wine and being in the skyline rather than looking at it from afar.
But, to everything turn, turn. Change is good, right? The old favorites are only a train ride away, and here, in my neighborhood, I know many wait to be found.
So for now, Brooklyn it is. For now, a Brooklynite I am.