Wherever I go, I’m taking you with me
The other day you frowned. At the time, you were gazing out the window of a new coffee shop down the street. We’d just had a lovely afternoon in our neighborhood– eating lunch, shopping at the mom and pop bookstore, and sharing tiny pastries at a French-themed cafe.
“Astoria! I’m going to miss you!” you cried out. I bit my lip, and nodded in agreement.
I’ve been in this neighborhood eight years–you more than 10–and though we haven’t come close to picking out a new home, we have already begun to say goodbye to this one. It’s looking less and less likely that we’ll be able to find what we’re looking for in Astoria, and while I can’t say with any type of certainty, my money is on us moving to Brooklyn. Let’s place some bets. I could use the cash.
The great thing about a big city like New York is that it gets broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces and the piece you occupy– your local neighborhood–becomes a small city unto itself. The businesses on your street become your barstool at Cheers. The people who tend them greet you with warmth when you walk through the door. Your butcher knows the cut you prefer, and the same man hands you the free Metro paper every morning at the foot of the subway stairs. The checkout ladies in hijabs are always curious about your grocery items, especially when they vary from your normal sweet potatoes and heads of kale.
“Ohhhh, what are you making tonight?” they’ll ask, holding up your bags of z’aatar and lentils.
Lately we’re looking around and noticing everything. As we stockpile mental lists of things we like and things we don’t about a neighborhood, we’re finding few complaints in the one we currently occupy. It’s cool without being pretentious. It’s multi-ethnic without feeling divided. It’s convenient. It’s comfortable. It’s interesting. It’s safe.
I’m really going to miss it.
I’m going to miss walking up Broadway, where century-old barber shops with steel chairs and striped poles keep their windows open so you can see men getting their sides trimmed or their faces shaved. I’m going to miss my shoe-shine guy, whose tiny store smells like a polished saddle and who fixes my boots for $5 every winter so I don’t have to buy new ones. I’m going to miss the bakery on the corner beneath the subway, not because I ever buy anything there, but because the smell of fresh bread escapes from their vent every morning and drifts all the way up to the train platform. I’m going to miss walking hand-in-hand with you to Saturday brunch. I’m going to miss summer mornings writing and drinking coffee in my little backyard.
I will not miss the awful loveseat we’ve held onto the past eight years because a real-sized sofa won’t fit into our living room. For years and years we’ve talked about a bigger space so we can finally invest in a longer couch. This lumpy loveseat is not coming with us. It will spend eternity on an Astoria streetcurb.
I will never miss this couch, but I will miss the closeness it requires. I’ll miss its narrow, squat dimensions and how it’s forced us to attach our bodies together like they’re trimmed in Velcro. I’ll miss Sunday nights with my feet propped on your legs, and I’ll miss sleepy mornings with your head against my shoulder.
Thankfully, you pack up real easy.
I’ll miss this neighborhood something awful, but there’s great comfort in knowing that wherever I go, I’m taking you with me.