I didn’t move away from New York as much as I drifted away. Most of my friends stayed in the state of New York to go to college. My dad would not allow me to apply to any of the SUNY schools. He had a short list in his mind of acceptable schools…school names that would sound grand at a cocktail party. That turned out to be very unfortunate for me as he was unable to assist with my tuition during my senior year and the name that he required was expensive.
I went home to New York for my freshman and sophomore summers but decided not to come home for my junior summer. I stayed with friends in South Bend for most of the summer and so began my drift away from New York. I traveled to New York for all of my college breaks but I never lived there again. After college I quickly moved to Chicago but New York was still home even though I no longer had a New York license.
Home was a house on Harding Avenue in Lynbrook straight up the street from North Middle School and around the corner from West End Elementary. It was a house that didn’t have a shower until I was in fifth grade. Instead it had a huge old fashioned bathtub that we were lucky enough to soak in.
Home was across the street from my favorite playmates and next door to the best driveway in history. My elderly neighbor had a driveway that we could ride our Big Wheels, Green Machines and Whiz Wheel down. And another neighbor had a tree that was the perfect shape to play McDonald’s drive thru. Harding Avenue was also quiet enough to play kickball on each and every summer night. The trees and the cracks in the street were perfect bases.
Home was a house without air conditioning which meant wide open windows. It also meant your friends could scream ‘Juls’ as they passed by. And sometimes you could throw a note out the window to a friend if you were grounded or stuck in the house. Home was a house with a huge front porch and greenhouse off the back.
Home was a ten minute walk to the LIRR train station and a 28 minute trip into the city. I remember riding the train as a toddler but barely remember riding it home as a twenty something after a New Year’s Eve celebration. Trips to the city were commonplace family outings and social events with friends.
Home was the city that the best baseball team in history played in – the New York Yankees. As a child we frequented Yankee Stadium. I wrote fan letters to all the players and much to the dismay of my Red Sox loving husband I had a huge crush on Bucky Dent. I thought he was so much cuter that the Mets Lee Mazilli. I remember the day Thurmon Munson died in a plane crash. Dave and I had a Yankee poster in the basement and I put a big X through his picture.
But I physically drifted away from this home but never mentally. I am a New York girl to the core. I miss bagels – real bagels not from Einsteins. I miss Scabelli’s, Atlantic Ave and Beckman’s Deli. I miss black and white cookies from Shaeffers. I miss the train ride to the beach or the easy twenty minute drive to the ocean. I miss hanging out in the lifeguard chairs after the beach closed. I miss the anonymity of the city. I miss the ability to do anything, everything and nothing that my heart desired.
And now the most my kids know about New York is the Jay Z song which is a favorite in our house. We listen to it as we drive around suburbia in our silver minivan and we pine for a city and a home that only one of us really knows.