Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Queens, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways.

I got married in 2002. My wife is from Queens. When we got married my wife worked in Queens and I worked at a job that allowed me to transfer from where I was working, in Englewood, NJ, to a branch in New York. That was one of the many reasons why it made a lot of sense for us to settle in Queens. If you had asked me in 2002 I would have guessed that we would live in Queens long enough for me to save some money and convince my wife that we should move somewhere else. I was wrong.

I didn't know it at the time, but it turns out that me and Queens are soulmates. (Let's ignore the poor grammar. This is some Joycian shit right here.) I love Queens more than I ever could possibly have imagined. I love the diversity of experience available throughout the boro. I love its suburban nature. I love its urban parts. I love that there's a working farm. You can live in Queens and have any experience that you want.

And if you want to have all those experiences together, you can have that too. You can find a spot in Queens where you can have a house, like a real house, the convenience of a car, easy access to the subway and therefore the city, places to go within walking distance, and access to the quasi-suburban lifestyle that seems to be exactly what I was looking for in life.

And I know you're reading this and thinking that this is my experience and that you wouldn't love Queens like this, but I thought the same thing. So I'm not getting on a soapbox or anything, but I think this is something that would hold true for a lot of readers of this blog. I suppose it's not even testable, the chances that any of you would move to Queens is essentially zero, so I'll just rest in the confidence of this statement without actually having to put up.

If I didn't have a family I would guarantee you that I'd live the rest of my life in Queens. As an adult, I couldn't ask for more. Unfortunately, there are some experiences that I had as a youngster (that's such a funny word) that are unavailable in Queens. And there's going to come a time in the near future where we'll have to decide if those are experiences that are vital to the upbringing of a family. Most of them relate to education and the insular nature of a prototypical suburb versus a pseudo-suburb, of which Queens is the only one I know. On the other hand, I know that we could supplement those experiences with ones that are entirely unique to coming up in such a diverse and open area. And at the same time, I know I have an ideal in mind that is probably not necessarily available anywhere.

I'm debating with myself whether I should end the post at this point. I have finished what I originally wanted to say, and I've rambled on a bit more in a tangentially related way. You can keep reading, but consider the rest of this a secondary post. Imagine if I had written it weeks or months later.

Additionally, moving out of Queens, the best place to live, would mean most likely moving to Long Island, arguably the worst place on Earth (this logic goes as far as the idea that I wouldn't ever consider moving out of New York Metro, so among those options, Long Island is the one that settles least with me). The nature of our jobs and such would mean that we'd have to either change everything, which I don't really want to do, or move to the Guyland. That prospect kindof skeeves me out. As someone from New Jersey, I have a natural hatred of Long Island, bred from the realization that New Jersey and Long Island are essentially the same, except that Long Island sucks way more (flawless logic). Being on Long Island genuinely skeeves me out. Ninety percent of the towns are laid out in the same way just based on the geography of the island. Every town in essentially a repeat of the last, branching of the LIE down a county highway and spreading out from there. There are a few towns that escape this genuinely unsettling feature, and I suppose I would consider moving there, the same way that others might consider moving to a suburb in New Jersey.

All else being equal, I don't think I could ever live in New Jersey again. It's hard to put my finger on. I loved growing up there. I don't think I'd trade it. But I also look at the nature of the state, essentially a giant suburb, the ludicrous taxes, the awfulness of the state government, and something intangible that has changed in me, and I just know that I don't want to go back. I guess that's the reason that this Long Island idea is fermenting inside of me. As much as the nature of a New Jersey native is diametrically opposed to Long Island, it would sortof be a way for me to go home again without actually going home again.

At the end of the day, I think I'd love to find a way to stay in Queens. I mean, I wouldn't have to find a way, I guess I'd just have to do it. My suspicion is that the perceived trade-offs are a smaller deal than I'm making them out to be. And my eternal happiness at living in the perfect location would undoubdtedly rub off on my family in a positive way. I mean, part of me is wondering why I would ever consider finding the perfect place and then leaving it. Seems pretty stupid.


Side Bar said...

The New Jersey-Long Island dynamic is worthy of a series of posts; this can be the prologue (and a very good one at that).

We will probably move to New Jersey in the next 6-18 months. But I have to tell you, it is incredible how little you can get in northern NJ for so much money. We looked at a house in River Edge the other day that makes my parents' place look like the Ritz, and it was just insanely expensive.

Also, the taxes in New Jersey are ridiculous (figure about $10k per year on a $500k house). That is insane.

If you like Queens - and it is obvious that you do - you should stay there. Sammy can go to Regis (or some less impressive but nonetheless acceptable catholic high school).

Open Bar said...

Chuck, if you move to Long Island, you will be kicked off the blog.

That's not a threat. It's a promise.

J said...

You know, I'm sure there's a lot of really great info here but all I can think about are certain scenes from "Coming to America" right now.

Side Bar said...

Where's Luke? Not in fucking Long Island I can tell you that much.

ChuckJerry said...

I work right near where they filmed Coming to America. The McDowell's restaurant is actually a Wendy's on Queens Boulevard that you can walk to from my school. I watch that movie today and recognize many of the locations.

In my heart, I know Long Island sucks. But can someone help me put it into words? Perhaps we should, as BPG suggested, start a dialogue in post form.

In all seriousness, 95% of the Guyland is unlivable. I'm not enormously concerned.

Anonymous said...

Somebody explain this "Guyland" thing... I think I missed something.

The 3 or 4 trips that I've ever taken to Long Island were surreal. I felt like I was in an alternate universe.

That's awesome that you love where you live.

Open Bar said...

Walt, say "Lawn" before "Guyland" out loud.

ChuckJerry said...

To elongate what Open Bar said for no reason: There is a very specific Long Island accent with really hard -ng sounds.

So while normal people say Long Island, natives say Lawn Guyland.

jenn said...

I lived in Queens Jerry! You should look in Forest Hills. It's BEAUTIFUL. Many of the homes and estates (yup, estates. I believe Mr. Carnegie was a FH native) are in the tudor style, the streets are lined with trees, parks abound, and distance to the subway and city is quite doable. (is that a word?) My $.02 is: unless you see the Hamptons in your future, Queens is def better than L.I. ; )

Kathy said...

um. I want to stay in Queens.

ChuckJerry said...

Yes, well, that's decided then. Good talk, honey.

I don't know that I can afford the Carnegie estate in Forest Hills, but I'll look into it.

Anonymous said...

Just think, Akeem,... with a little bit of luck, in twenty years or so, who knows? You may have a house just like this.

That would be something.