Queens, New York
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

Queens, New York

Being removed from it all

162
Queens, New York

My grandmother lives in Queens. She lives in Queens in a pale brick one-bedroom apartment on the second floor with her shih-tzu Rusty and her "boyfriend" Tom—the man she has been with for 20 years after separating from my grandfather—who lives downstairs.

Queens has always had a special place in my heart. It was where my father grew up and it was my first experience with New York City. Since before I could remember, my mother, father, brother and I took 4-hour car rides down to Queens (over the Throgs Neck Bridge from which Peter always swore he could see the Statue of Liberty but I never could) where we stayed for a couple nights, the five of us in my grandmother's tiny flat. There'd be a pullout couch, some air mattresses, fresh sheets and cold glasses of water. New York City's best.

Now that I go to school in New York, sometimes I will take the train out to Queens to see my grandma and get away from the craziness of college and my daily life. I exit the Long Island Rail Road at the New Hyde Park station and step down from the platform, where Tom is waiting in his gray pressed slacks and white Ralph-Lauren quarter zip, his arms crossed and his eyes searching for me behind his darkened transition lenses. I go up to meet him and he kisses my cheek, taking my bag off my shoulder which makes me feel bad because he's 87 and I don't pack very light. Nonetheless, I follow him to my grandma's white Toyota Camry and hug her through the driver's seat window, patting Rusty, who's sitting squeamishly in her lap, on the head and climbing into the backseat.

We get to Gram's apartment and the familiar smell of clean laundry and used furniture fills my nose as I climb the steps behind Rusty. There are cookies from the Italian bakery down the street on the table and Gram offers me some, which I happily accept. We chat for a while, just small talk, about school and about Gram's neighbors, who always have some sort of drama going on. Menial things that distract me from the heaviness that is life sometimes. Then Gram mentions that her neighbors are having a Labor Day cookout, and would I like to go down and meet all of them? All of the people I have heard Gram gossip about, the teacher with the squeaky voice, the ex-dancer with a smoking problem? Of course I would like the go down and meet all of them.

So we go down for a while, and I meet all of them, and they're even better than gram made them out to be. They're funny, you know, all in their own little worlds in their little apartment complex in Queens. No two are the same. There's Johnny, from Greece, who insisted that I take a lot of food even though I had eaten, because it was rude in Greek culture to resist food when offered. There's Dorine, Tom's good friend, who brought me a sweater from her apartment because I was only wearing shorts. I don't know what it was about that gathering but I could really feel the spirit of New York there; all these people from different places gathering in the same space, interacting in the same space. The harsh but kind heart, the hospitality you can tell comes from not, at some point in their lives, feeling welcome.

After the cookout we went back upstairs and Tom made us two cups of tea before heading to bed for the night (it was only 8pm). Gram and I stayed up and talked for a while, as we do, hands wrapped around our tea cups, warm, quiet voices in the soft dim light above the kitchen table. She always talks about her neighbors, her brother, my cousins, my aunts and uncles. My parents. I tell her about my friends, school, boys. She always knows what to say and I can sometimes see myself in her, in the mistakes we both made and the lessons we both learned.

The next morning I wake up on the pullout, with Rusty sleeping by my side, taking up too much of the mattress. I smile as he turns over when I wake, smile when I see Gram and Tom already toasting my blueberry bagel from the deli down the road they must have picked up while I was sleeping. It's little things like tea from Tom and blueberry bagels that make me feel so spoiled, so loved and cared for, so at home even not at home.

We eat and then Gram and I take a ride out to Port Washington, just as it's starting to rain. I've always loved taking rides, especially in the rain. We're quiet most of the way; neither of us are huge talkers, except when someone asks us something and we tend to go off for hours without really answering the question. When we get there, we sit in her Camry for a while, looking out at the misty harbor and the lonely sailboats that sat quietly in the drizzle. "I love the water," Gram said, and I agreed. There's something comforting but sad about rainy rides, something inexplicably discomforting but peaceful about boats all alone. About the open ocean. As I sat, I felt sad.

But then we left, and put it behind us. I went back to gather my things and Gram and Tom drove me to the station, waiting until the last minute the train pulled away before pulling out. I waved as I went past, knowing that in a half hour I'd be back in the city, back alone in the whirlwind of my ordinary life. But I was okay, really. I was recharged. Something about Queens always makes me sad but happy. It's the sadness that comes with simplicity, of being removed but not totally removed from the city, from your life. It's the sadness that comes with the complexity of knowing that simplicity only exists there, in those moments, and the sadness that comes with knowing that it will be a long time before you live that simplicity.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

88369
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

192854
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments