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

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

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!


Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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Enjoy Your Family While You Can, Because Family Is Everything

Make as many memories as you can with them.


We often hear family means everything. And it is. There's nothing like family. They're your automatic people. They're stuck with you and you're stuck with them, whether you like it or not. Sometimes, or a lot of the time, they annoy the crap out of you. You fight. You make up. They annoy you again. But the commonality with all of these things, the reason why you can never stay mad, they're your family. And you love each other unconditionally.

My family and I are incredibly close. We always have been. For as long as I can remember, my entire family has always been there – parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. We truly embody the big family. And I couldn't be more grateful for that.

I have always been the type of person to hang out with my family. From movie nights to Disney trips, even game nights, I more often than not choose to hang out with my parents, sometimes more than my friends. I will always choose the road trips, filled with laughs and spontaneous bursts into song. The truth is I want to make as many memories with my family while I can because no moment is promised. There's no doubt that I also love my friends, and thoroughly enjoy my time with them too. But if I'm home or have the opportunity to be with family, I'm definitely biased.

Throughout my life, I've lost loved ones. I've seen those close to me lose the ones they cherish the most. It's easily the most difficult thing to go through. I know the pain of letting moments slip through your fingers, of wishing you have more time with your family. And I don't want to waste a second.

My parents are dorks. They drive me nuts sometimes. They embarrass me from every once in a while. But they're my dorks. They're my favorite people in the whole world. I wouldn't trade a moment with them for anything. I choose to spend my nights, my weekends with them because I value them, I cherish them. They have sacrificed everything for my sister and me, and I don't take that for granted.

I dread the day that I won't be able to call my mom and tell her all about my day. Or to laugh until I cry from my dad's unparalleled humor. This is why I want to indulge in all those little moments, those things that are not promised and I will not have one day.

If this last year has taught me anything it's that we need to embrace our loved ones while they're here, laugh as much as you can with them, make as many memories as you can with them. That's what I will be doing. Family is the most important thing to me and I will love them until the end of time.

Cover Image Credit:

Nicole Cantore

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