Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lost in transition

Published in the Long Island Advance, March 13, 2008

I continue to live with one foot tentatively in Jackson Heights and the other firmly planted in Patchogue, and it’s quite a stretch. Initially I was very homesick, and even anticipating being so, moving was much more difficult than I imagined. Then again, when one waits as long as I did to move away from home, there’s a lot of adjusting to do, especially when you consider that moving from the suburbs to the city has been, for me, like moving to a foreign country.

What I miss the most is the sun, the smell of salt in the air and the color green. Yes, there are trees on my block, however my apartment windows do not look out over them, and being on the fourth floor of a six story building means that even on a sunny day, it just barely glances across my windows, and only for about five minutes at sunrise. I can glimpse it from my kitchen window if I crane my neck almost out of it. It reminds me of those real estate ads that say “water view,” but don’t tell you that you can only see the water if you’re standing on your roof in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees.

My Queens neighborhood boasts three laundromats, four drug stores, seven restaurants, three bakeries, two banks, a few phone and clothing stores, coffee shops, including a Starbuck’s, Petland, Carvel, two McDonald’s, and a Burger King, all within in a several block radius, and yet I have this need to shop on Long Island for pretty much everything except groceries. It’s very inconvenient to have to carry multiple, and sometimes very heavy bags back to my apartment each Sunday evening. Getting home requires the train and the subway, and I feel as if I can now add the word “Sherpa” to my resume’. I’ve also found myself renting movies in Patchogue, watching them in Queens, and returning them the following weekend. Even I think that’s a bit ridiculous!

This past weekend I bought a rolling suitcase. I managed to stow away all my clothes, the laundry that I sometimes bring with me to do over the weekend, a package of four energy efficient light bulbs, a power strip, a small wreath for my bathroom wall, a package of plastic clothes hangers, and the perfume I bought in Ulta. It never occurred to me that I could have purchased almost all of those items in stores around the corner from my apartment. I have yet to venture to the Queens Mall or to find other of my favorite stores, probably because almost every weekend I’m here, on Long Island.

On one walk around my block you might hear Russian, Korean, Polish, Spanish or Farsi being spoken, and sometimes, even English, and on my way out to the street from the subway I regularly pass Peruvian musicians performing “music from the Andes.”

The sights, sounds and smells are so different that, for now, I am living in a foreign country, and I didn’t even need to apply for a passport to get here.

I think that as much as I love living in Queens, my head is still not there yet, or maybe it’s my heart that has yet to make the transition.