Dear Long Island,
It seems like yesterday that I sat upon your shores, breathing in the mix of fresh air and salt water. The summer wind which blew my hair away from my shoulders, the echoing sounds of Florida Georgia Line's summer concert at Jones Beach still resonates throughout my ears. What seems like forever ago has only been a little over a month that I lived a part from you. And now, hundreds of miles away, I can still say that you and your crispy bagels remain close to my heart.
This past month can be characterized in three words: awkwardness, uncertainty, and ice-breakers. I have sat in a countless number of circles introducing myself and consequently stating my hometown. Never have I been more proud to say, "Long Island, New York." Whenever I state my hometown, I suddenly feel a yearning for your egg, bacon, and cheese sandwiches, superior pizza, and the countless Billy Joel references.
Speaking of your countless legends, I feel pure joy whenever a Billy Joel song plays on campus. I explain to my friends, who are from various parts of the country, that I know exactly where the Italian restaurant from "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" used to be. I show the pictures of the exact "Glass House" which appears on his album that I have driven by countless times. I tell stories of relatives casually seeing Billy Joel walking into a supermarket or inside his own motorcycle shop. I feel pride when I explain that Lea Michele and Natalie Portman began their contributions in local Long Island high schools that are less than twenty minutes from my house.
But most of all, my heart misses the docks of Port Washington and Great Neck, the areas which inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby"--one of the most famous literary pieces of American history. The shores of "West Egg" and "East Egg" are more than literary locations, they are home. They are the waters I kayak in the heat of July and August. They are the docks I sit upon with my friends, eating ice cream and watching the sunset, driving with the top down.
I miss the train rides into "the city that never sleeps", the ever-promising lights of New York City. Walking throughout Penn Station, I miss being an eyewitness of the diversity of people, cultures, and food. I miss the underrated talent which lines the sidewalks, the tiniest corners of Penn Station, and subway cars. I still hear the cacophony of car horns, overhead advertisements, and various conversations of passing New Yorkers.
In the past month, I have had to explain "The New York Way"; the avoidance of making eye contact with anyone or anything besides the ground, of starting conversation with any stranger, and dodging the questionable Disney, Marvel, or Nickelodeon "characters" which encompass the entirety of Times Square and heckle tourists for tips. I miss the comfort of viewing the Empire State Building, Central Park, Madison Square Garden, and the "Big Tree" at Rockefeller Center as a part of my normal surroundings, and not tourist attractions.
Long Island, it has been too long. But I know that no matter the distance or duration which I am away from you, you will hold me in a loving embrace and will say, "Welcome home."