I was in Queens yesterday and did something I haven’t done in a long time – I went back in time – to my first apt, to the place where I got settled in NY so many years ago. In the years since I’ve lived here, I moved around a bit and every neighborhood I’ve lived in kinda absorbed me so that I could build a life there but when I left, the next neighborhood did the same. But this is where it really all started. My first place in Queens.
In the 10 years or so since I left, I’ve thought about the neighborhood in passing, when I would be in that section of Queens, I’d say, “I used to live over there”.
Yesterday, I had some time to spare and some exercise to do so I got off the F train at Parsons Blvd and went walking. I saw things I hadn’t seen in 10 years, and also hadn’t thought about in that time, but the moment I saw them, it was a flood of memories coming back.
The house has changed a bit – when I moved out, the owners had put the house on the market and were moving to India – but it retains so much of what I remember.
On garbage day, the trash can would always be on its side, rolling around so when I came home and I almost always had to put it back.
Those 2nd floor windows were in my bedroom.
That’s where I was when the lights went out in the Northeast Blackout of 2003. I was asleep in that room and when I woke up, I thought we were having electrical problems in the house so I just chilled out until around dusk when I stuck my head out the window, saw the landlord in the garden below me and called out to him. “Mr Shah, the light is gone in my apartment.” He smiled and called out, “The light is gone everywhere, my dear”.
Coming from Jamaica where power-cuts are a common practice for the purpose of “load shedding”, I wasn’t immediately scared by the dark. But that was the rural areas of a small island. Lights-out in NY meant something completely different. Lights-out meant nothing worked – no traffic lights ergo no public transportation, no refrigeration, no appliances, no street lights, no visibility so businesses closed down fast and stayed closed. It took a couple days for power to be restored but the memories will last forever.
One of my main pet peeves with Queens is how an Ave can turn into a Crescent or Close or Lane with almost no notice.
I had the hardest time getting anything delivered when I lived here in the years pre-GPS. I remember the time I ordered chinese food and after two unsuccessful attempts and the delivery guy not finding my apt, I had to walk a block down to the intersection to meet him and get my cold-by-then food.
This sloping pavement is one of the places where I slipped and sprained my ankle on black ice.
There was a school across the street that I saw every time I left the apt, which is probably why education was (is) always on my mind.
This is an interesting house with a tower like structure at the corner. I have always loved round buildings so this was one of my favs in the neighborhood.
There is always something interesting to see as homeowners get to live out their personalities in their yard-decor.
And I’m sure the people in this house were not surprised by last night’s April-snow since it seems that they are still celebrating Christmas. Maybe someone here was praying for a white Christmas and just got their own little miracle.
It was fun to visit my old neighborhood and see things I had long forgotten. As I walked on the streets that I came to know so well long ago, I got to think about where I was in my life 10 years ago. And to contemplate whether I have become the version of myself that I would have described if someone had asked me, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Sure, there are lots of things I would have dreamed that are still far from being accomplished but I believe in celebrating success. So that’s what I’ll do.
I’ll celebrate and then get right back to working hard everyday and let’s see what the next 10 years will bring.
How about you? Have you moved a lot? Do you ever get a chance to visit a place where you used to live?