I Hold People And Places Close To My Heart, There Is Nothing Wrong With That

I Hold People And Places Close To My Heart, There Is Nothing Wrong With That

I know there are people out there who do not understand why I hold people and places close to my heart.

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I could start by saying I love people, but I don't think I would be telling the truth if I said that. I would be telling the truth if I said, "I love my people." I am a person of comfort, which sometimes isn't always the best. I will become comfortable with people and places. So comfortable it makes it hard to leave.

I think this could be because I have lived in the same town my whole life. I have had the same people around me my whole life, but as I have gotten older I have met many people from different places. When I had to say "bye" or "see ya later" to people who helped me grow immensely I was a wreck.

Growing up is a part of life.

I know that. I wish I could take 'my' people with me through every stage of life, though. Many people who know me well are already convinced I'm going to be one of the moms who is an absolute wreck when she sends her kid(s) off to school. I love my time with people. It is a rare occasion when I get "sick" of spending time with people. I am an extrovert through and through.

I can remember certain "goodbyes" vividly. That is because they physically hurt. Saying bye to the people who I love dearly, not knowing when I'll see them next was like a punch in the chest. Walking out of a school for the last time as a student crushed me because I held that place so close to my heart. Memories began to flood my mind. I'll always have memories of the places and people I love, which is comforting to me.

I know there are people out there who do not understand why I hold people and places close to my heart. That is okay. I find safety in my people and places. I can go to my people and feel loved and I can go to my places and be reminded of great times. Such as the time I almost went into the boys' bathroom freshman year of high school. Or the random drives through town because we were bored and had nothing else to do.

There will be a day when I won't be around my people all the time. I'm already trying to prepare myself for that. So far, it is not going to well. There will be a day when I won't be able to go five or ten minutes from my house and be at places that have a special place in my heart.

There is nothing wrong with loving others.

Friendships are important. As we get older, it gets harder. We no longer see the same people every day. We no longer see all of our friends walking down the hall. Regardless, I'll always hold my people and my places close to my heart. If you're wondering, there's nothing wrong with that.

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An Open Letter to the Best Friend I Didn't See Coming

Some people come into your life and change you forever—thanks, bestie.
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Dear best friend,

I wasn't expecting you when God placed you in my life. I had my friends. I had my people. I wasn't exactly open to the idea of new meaningful friendships because I had the ones I needed, and it didn't seem like I really needed anybody new.

Thank God that was false. Sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're going to be good friends with. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that there is no such thing as chance. I think God has a funny way of making it seem as if the things that happen to us are by chance, but honestly, that’s a load of crap. If the biggest moments of our lives were left up to chance, then I believe that would make God out to seem as if he didn’t care. It would make it seem as if He was truly abandoning me and making me face some of my most important seasons fully isolated. But you, best friend, are a true testament to the fact that God doesn’t just leave such important aspects up to chance. Thank you for taking a chance on our friendship, and thank you for allowing me to take a chance on what I didn’t realize would be the most impactful friendship in my entire life.

Thank you for being real with me. Thank you for not sugar coating things. Thank you for telling me when I have a bad attitude. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes. Thank you for supporting me in my decisions, even if it isn’t always the decision you would make. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and for making that your true intent behind the words that you say to me, whether they be constructive criticism or encouragement.

Thank you for being a goof with me. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for seeing the importance of our friendship. Thank you for making time in your schedule for us to just sit and do homework, eat Mexican food, or sit on the porch and listen to music that emotionally wrecks you.

You’re one of a kind. You’re a shoulder to lean on. You’re a safe place. You’re a free spirit. You’re rough and tough, but your heart melts for the people you love and it’s obvious. You’re more than meets the eye. You are worth getting to know. You are worth loving. You pursue people. You are passionate about your future. You are everything that a person needs, and I really thank God that for some reason you continue to choose to be in my life. Thank you for literally dragging me up my mountains of fear when I want to stay exactly where I am at and wallow in the sadness. You bring joy—true joy—wherever you go. You are my best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. You will be the Maid of Honor, Godmother, and fun Aunt.

I used to think lifelong friendships weren’t really a thing. It just seemed like people always grew apart and forever was never a point that was attainable. Best friends forever is a cliché phrase that is continuously overused nowadays (sometimes, I even used to make light of it), but thanks for making that a reality. You are truly the best friend I could have asked for. So thank you for it all. You make life more fun, and I couldn’t thank God more for making an incredible human, friends with me.

I love you, pal!

JQ

Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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A Tree Grows In Jackson Heights

This is where my roots lie.

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About 20 years ago (wow, I'm old) I was born in a part of Queens, New York called Jackson Heights. If you're from there as well, the name most definitely evokes a lot of nostalgic memories.

Jackson Heights is nicknamed the Melting Pot of the United States. In other words, it's the Melting Pot of the Melting Pot. There are so many different cultures here that it's actually hard to keep track. Growing up, I never felt out of place because of the diversity that surrounded me.

Chinese, Indian, Nepali, Mexican, Bengali, Costa Rican restaurants among many more dot every street corner. All individuals from these cultures, no matter how distinct from one another, gather around the same square on 74th street and share their language, clothing, music, and food.

It's an understatement to say living here for two decades has shaped my personality. Jackson Heights has undoubtedly made me the individual I am today. Living so close to the largest South Asian market in the United States allowed me to absorb and appreciate my culture. Although not identical to the traditional Indian villages my parents are from, it definitely comes close. All it takes is a short trip down the block (after putting on my most decent-looking pair of slippers, of course) to immerse myself in a world so comforting, so close to my heart.

I could go out to buy salwar suits and matching bangle sets with my mother, then make a stop at Patel Brothers to buy some cold Maaza mango juice, then argue with my sister whether halal food or empanadas were better for dinner. And then my mom would berate us for wasting so much money on food when we already had food at home.

The options are endless. I've lived here for so long but I have never gotten tired of it. The dynamic of Jackson Heights is different every single day. And although sometimes it seems tempting to move to someplace suburban (Syosset has been on my parents' list as of lately) and live in a large house with an equally impressive backyard, my heart belongs to Jackson Heights.

However cheesy it sounds, no matter how annoying the incessant rumbling of the seven train, the huge crowds of people, and the struggle to find parking, there's no other place where I could envision myself living.

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