Long Island, How Ambivalent I Am Toward Thee

I'm visiting family on Long Island. I grew up here, and the drive here, if nothing else does reminded me why this is no longer home. The Long Island Expressway is often referred to as the Distressway, and this is appropriate. Bumper to bumper traffic, ranging from a dead stop to a top speed of thirty miles and hour can cause serious distress. I witness the level of distress this can cause in regular exposure while riding behind a Jeep Cherokee, the driver of which continued to punch the roof, dashboard, and steering wheel. He appeared to be screaming as well. I appreciated his sentiment, though since I'm not stuck in it very often, I wasn't too wound up about it. I appreciated more the entertainment he provided while sitting in traffic. It's fun to watch someone completely lose their shit in the confines of their own safe space, where no one can scold them for their outrageous behavior. He probably didn't realize someone was watching him.

Coming across the George Washington Bridge I realized I still haven't been back to NY enough for the skyline to look normal to me without the Twin Towers. People who have lived here these last ten years have probably become accustomed to it by now.

Long Island is crowded. There are more people living here than in the entire state of Virginia. This is not something most people in Virginia ever consider, because like the rest of the country, they don't consider anything about Long Island (1401 square miles, 5470 inhabitants per square mile, population of 7,448,618 as of 2000 census), unless by some unfortunate stroke of luck they have to visit for some reason. If it were it's own state (and there are some people on it who want it to be) it would be the 12th highest populated state in the nation. There are people everywhere. You can't escape. I'm currently sitting in a Panera Bread, specifically because i can count on free wireless internet here. I don't know if there are any small local coffee shops around which would have the good sense to provide wireless access. I've been away for too long, and the last length of time I spent on Long Island didn't involve thinking about wireless access.

Things have changed. Nine years is a long time to be gone from a place. I don't know what I expected. It's changed, but in it's way it's only changed to more of the same. More strip malls, more chain stores and restaurants, just morer. More people as well, one thing which absolutely wasn't needed. One interesting thing to me my reaction to being here. I don't feel any different. I don't feel any different driving around Long Island than I do driving around Richmond. No sense of anxiety or excitement, a little agitation at the occasional dipshit who needs to review the rules of the road, and getting flustered from getting turned around once or twice and not remembering how to get to where I want to be from where I am, but that's nothing any different than I would feel in Richmond if faced with exactly the same situation. I've twice now in a short time I've been here been interrupted by someone looking for someone they are supposed to be meeting, not the same person, but two different people. Both of those instances have involved some minute, quick feelings of anxiety, as I've seen them approaching with that quisitive look and for a second I think, "is this someone I don't remember, and if so, what's the possibility I don't remember them because I last encountered them in a state of drunken lunacy, and what did I do?" This doesn't happen in Richmond.

I think I'm going to take a ride out to the east end tomorrow so that I can take some pictures. I don't think the people back home have really been able to grasp the vulgarity of the wealth and affluence out there, and since I can't drag them down here and throw them on the lawns, I can post some pictures here, since it's more than likely that only my friends are reading this anyway. If you're reading this and I don't know you, the context of finding some pictures of opulent beach houses and resort estates is going to be lost on you, but you'll probably find the pictures pretty cool anyway. It might be so opulent and such a flaunting of wealth as to be vulgar, but some of the houses (and the castle, on the beach...) are pretty gorgeous. There's a whole lot floating around in my head that I can't really put into something coherent enough for other people to understand right now, but I'll let it sit for a while and try again later.

Besides, the family's going to start getting itchy if I'm gone for too long.

Richmond is truly my home now. It's where the life I've actively made is, not the lifee I stumbled into, over or through. Though there's been plenty of stumbling, and tripping over life in Richmond, it's the place I decided to make my stand and lay my roots, and I have. If I can say nothing else about all of this, that much is true, and good. It's good to have a home, because I don't think Long Island was ever a home to me in the same way Richmond is. My biological family may still be here, but my family of choice and affection is in Richmond, and I guess that's what makes it home.


Popular Posts