Dear Long Island, I Miss You

Dear Long Island, I Miss You

To the Gatsby-inspired, Billy Joel referenced, "long" island I hold close to my heart.

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."

Cover Image Credit: Juliana Consenza

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Poetry On Odyssey: "Happy Birthday in Heaven, Grandpa"

I Miss You

He walked into my house one foot behind the other

He hugged me and I felt his arms grasp my back as though he had missed me

I grinned at the sweet smell of Hall's cough drops and strong black coffee radiating off of him

"I missed you Johnson. How have you been?" He said with his raspy, smoker's voice

"I'm good papaw," I'd always say.

We laughed so hard we snorted, because he was always cracking jokes

He asked me how I was doing in school, and let me know I get all of my intelligence from him

Then, all of a sudden, he was sick, and in the hospital

Then, in the blink of an eye, he was in heaven watching over me

Oh lord, do I miss him.

His hoarse voice.

His distinctive laugh.

His songs that he would play on his guitar and harmonica

His hugs.

His jokes.

His round glasses that he wore with only one leg, and ducked tape on the other side.

His Harley Davidson Motorcycle's jacket he always wore.

But most of all, him.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Papaw Jerry, Johnson really misses you.

Cover Image Credit: Lexi Parsons

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How To Grow Apart From Your High School Best Friend

Friendships are hard, and sometimes you have to let go.

College is a time of self-discovery and exploration, but there are always things you have to leave behind. For me, that was my high school friends.

I remember on my first day of college, after orientation activities had calmed down, I sat and my dorm and facetimed my closest friend back home, the way we had always done. She was the person who had seen my worst sides, from my selfish bitterness to my deepest insecurities, and cared and understood. But I knew something was off when she spent her first night at college partying instead of staying on the phone.

My first semester of college was a lonely one. I struggled with making connections, establishing a presence on campus, and it was so easy to retreat into the comfort of my dorm rather than face the possibility of rejection from speaking to someone new. Anytime I felt particularly lonely, it was only a phone call away to hear my friend’s low, soothing voice. And still, every time she didn’t answer at 1 a.m. on a weekend, I knew it was because she was having the time of her life while I was alone in my room. She made me doubt our closeness and her loyalty to me as a friend, but at the same time I didn’t want to get in the way of her new life. More than ever, it weighed on me: the pressure to be happy.

When she started to choose a college friend over me, I did the irrational and cut her off. Her choosing someone else felt like the ultimate betrayal, after all those promises and wishes we made. She told me she would always support me, always prioritize me, always care. I know that she still does, even though it often feels like she would rather be sharing stories and dreams with someone else.

I learned then, after my high school friend started to choose her college friend over me, that in some ways, you need distance. Feeling like a broken friendship broke my heart, I latched onto any of my college friends who were kind and willing to listen to me spill my feelings of hurt. In the process, I’ve found some closer friends. I’ve spoken to one girl who misses her high school friends to death and can’t let go, and another who has explored so many new things and can’t speak freely to her childhood best friend anymore. All of us have had completely different years without the ones we cared about, and its changed us. I still care about my friend so much and even though it’s hard to wish the best for her when I’m not there, I’m doing my best to reach a place in which I can celebrate her newfound self without thinking of myself.

Friendships and relationships are hard. Hard enough that it’s easy to ask-- why bother? But I know that when I go back home, even through all our new experiences and different knowledge that the high school friends that truly care about me will still be there.

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