Like many who bought their first houses on Long Island in the 1950s, my parents worked hard and eventually escaped their cramped Brooklyn apartment to come live here. It required a group effort, with my mother's family living together under one roof with my parents and my two eldest brothers, who were followed by another boy and then me.
So when I told my mother I was moving into an apartment in Downtown Brooklyn in 1990, her reaction was understandable: "But your father and I worked so hard to get us OUT of Brooklyn."
I was in my mid-20s, a couple of years into my first real job, and I was moving within five miles of where she was born, schooled, courted, married and became a mother. For me, Brooklyn was the exciting frontier, and though my parents were crestfallen, off I went.More ExpresswayReader essaysReader essaysGet published in Newsday
I lived the next 25 years in the Borough of Kings, watching my neighborhood go from an edgy, drug-riddled area with affordable rent to a coveted destination filled with upscale restaurants, artisans and rising housing prices. I bought my meat from the butcher, coffee from the roaster, seafood from the fishmonger and bread from the baker, just as my mother did when she grew up. Meanwhile, my mother was more than happy to get all her shopping done in one giant supermarket in North Bellmore. And while I thrived in Brooklyn, it never truly felt like home, even as I witnessed the borough's lovely renaissance from my one-bedroom, fourth-floor condominium apartment downtown, two blocks from Junior's Resturant on Flatbush Avenue.
Now I am back on Long Island, caring for my mother in the same house she has lived in for 64 years, and I find myself more keenly aware than ever of geographical and cultural differences.
In the city, Mondays mean that most museums are closed. On Long Island, Monday means most bakeries are closed.
Car-alarm beeps and squeals are ubiquitous in Brooklyn; leaf blowers are the loudest constant noise here.
Parking meters still exist here and take coins. The newfangled city method requires your credit card and produces vouchers to display on your dash. If you are lucky enough to have a car in the city, your trunk becomes an extra closet, and finding parking is a constant cloud hovering over you. Here it is a blissful luxury to have plentiful parking -- as long as you don't use the Carvel lot if you're going to My Hero in North Merrick.
Long Island loves a drive-through. Brooklyn is more famous for the drive-by. The small mammals that run wild around here have fluffy tails. In the city, they don't.
In Brooklyn, there's always an insanely long line at the best bagel shop in the morning. In a rare instance of complete overlap, I can report that it's exactly the same on Long Island.
But the most palpable benefit of moving back to the Island has been the lowering of my baseline anxiety level, and here's a prime example: My newspaper was routinely stolen from my foyer in Brooklyn. Back here, I can always count on finding my paper in front of the house. And often, a kind neighbor will grab it from the lawn and bring it up to the front door. Quite a difference in starting one's day. All in all, it's good to be home.
Reader Susan Biegler lives in North Bellmore.