I’d never been to Harlem until Dana had decided to bunk there during an improv festival in New York City. We were volunteering there, and my shift was at 7:00am. I decided to stay the night with her because waking up and taking the train at 6:30am is a lot easier than waking up at 5:00am to catch a train from Long Island at 6:00am that would probably get me there late anyway.
Harlem is a place where people say you’ll get stabbed for looking at the sidewalk too long. This is white-person speak for “multi-ethnic.” At first I was hesitant to head beyond Columbia University, but then I thought to myself “Honestly, this is New York City, not a slum. There are lights and people everywhere. If I keep my wits about me, I should be fine.”
And it was true – everything was fine. I found Dana’s guesthouse right near the subway, and I was pleasantly surprised – it was an old, turn-of-the-century Brownstone divided into several rooms. Her own lodging had a little kitchenette and a bathroom, and luxurious furnishings, including a settee and a chandelier. I wanted to stay for longer just so that I could take advantage of the spiral staircase, whose stained-class skylight was something to look up to.
Yonkers is a city in New York State.
Yonkers is a stone’s-throw from New York City. My grandmother lived there for the longest time, and that is where my mom grew up. Lots of famous people have lived there and there are even plays about Yonkers. It’s an interesting place, for sure.
What I remember about Yonkers is how hilly it is. When driving to my grandmother’s, we had to crawl up several steep slopes. When driving home, it was like a roller coaster of hills and valleys, and steep inclines, which always made me wonder how people ever stayed alive and didn’t get into car accidents, it was that crazy. Yonkers has it’s good parts, and it’s bad parts. It’s about a thirty-minute train ride into the city, but suburban enough to feel like the old-fashioned suburbs of New York.
There are a couple of cool tourist attractions in Yonkers. The Hudson River Museum is a pretty cool place to visit, and as a kid I really enjoyed Untermyer Gardens, a place that feels like Europe in the summertime. There is also a casino there for gambling types, and some great parks/hiking. For a fun day trip out of Manhattan I’d make the trek to Yonkers, just to see how suburban New Yorkers live!
Queens is a borough of New York City
Most people have never heard of my small, suburban town. “It’s on the border of Queens” seems to be a statement people can relate to. But even if you say to someone that you live in Queens, nine times out of ten they still won’t know what area you’re referring to. Public transportation doesn’t run very much on that side of town, so many parts of Queens are their own microcosms of cool.
Queens is sort of this anomaly of New York City. You have Astoria, which is super Greek and starting to get hipper. You have Flushing which is a melting pot of Orthodox Jews, Koreans, Middle Eastern folks and more. You have the somewhat “ghetto” areas of Jamaica, Woodmere, Ozone Park and Rosedale, and then there are the beaches of the Rockaways. Plus more, in between. Queens is a cool area because it’s largely residential – even apartment buildings are cramped into single-family houses, not blocky apartment buildings. It’s a great place to raise a family if you want to have the house, and the yard, and the parking space, and the convenience to NYC.
There are some great hidden gems in Queens that people should look into. Astoria has a great bar scene, and a huge Czech population, centering around the amazing Bohemian Beer Garden. Woodmere has an awesome tattoo shop that is run by and employs only females. Forest Hills has incredible architecture and I do enjoy the food and beverage scene at CitiField, even if I don’t like the Mets. I student taught in Far Rockaway and although I didn’t get to explore the area, the students I had were incredible. There’s a lot to be said about Queens, and people need to start speaking up!
New York City SHOULD be the capital of New York State. But it’s not.
Ever since I’ve been alive, New York City has been a part of my life. I live about thirty minutes from this bustling metropolis and have fond memories of traveling by train and car for various events: Broadway shows, celebratory dinners, art lessons at some of the many famous museums…I always too NYC for granted as a teen because I’d never known my life without it. To me, it was just this dirty, smelly, overrated place with mean, self-conscious people. Why on earth would anyone ever want to live there?
I went to college and all of that changed. Suddenly the little things I’d known back home became integral parts of what I realized I craved: decent Italian food, 24/hour eateries, bars that let underage kids party without a problem. After traveling the world and living in amazing cities, I realized there really wasn’t anywhere more amazing than New York. So I, along with 8.2 billion other people, struggled to make it work in the Big Apple.
I failed miserably. I couldn’t keep up with the competition, and I didn’t have a job where I made enough to afford even a shitty apartment. When I got a job on Long Island and moved in with my boyfriend, I realized my fate was sealed – New York City would always be there, but I’d never be there. I’m okay with it, actually – I watch my friends struggle while I sit back and enjoy my sun deck – because I feel like Manhattan and I would have a terrible relationship. One of us would always want something more, and neither one would be able to provide it. I much prefer switching between islands every so often; it keeps things fresh, and I know I am still a part of a wonderful community.
I wrote an essay on my recent experience with Hurricane Sandy, and it was published by Thought Catalog! Thought Catalog is a series of articles, essays and funny quips largely relating to millennial 20something culture. Writing this essay, for me, was very therapeutic and helped me put things into perspective. I hope it will help others the way it helped me and inspire people to write their own versions.
Listen to your fellow LAWN GUYLANDERS talk about their harrowing experiences. A woman with big, blond, bushy hair nervously chatters about losing the first floor of her home in Bellmore, including her bedroom, after the tidal surges. She’s currently sleeping on the floor of her 3-year-old daughter’s room. Her laundry companion relents about taking the bus to the laundromat on account of her car getting flooded; she had just paid off the auto loan, and now it no longer works. A man from Lindenhurst is interviewed by the news on the laundromat’s television. He talks about how he left his laptop above his television cabinet “because I didn’t think the water would get that high.” When he came back, his entire house had fallen into a canal adjacent to his property.
Realize that although your life sucks right now, there are people out there that have it way worse.