The love I have for my hometown is not complicated. It’s a simple love of the unconditional variety. I only broke up with Brooklyn once when I went away to college, a much-needed break considering the hordes of people I encountered on my daily 2 train commute. It was like leaving your high school boyfriend whose only flaw,
by default, is he is the only thing you know, and you’re curious to see what else is out there. Needless to say, I found out and came running back. I ran back to the place that raised me. I was a kid with a stoop, tumbling down the streets of my youth and playing ball on the narrow blocks and dead-end streets of brownstone Brooklyn. The place where the first sign of summer wasn’t a particular date in June, but the sound of the water gushing out of a fire hydrant, creating gray, glistening rivers along the hardened sidewalks. The Trinidadians down the street would sit in their front “yard” (a table and a few chairs in an enclosed gate) and blast their soca music to the pleasure of my West Indian ears. Labor day was ushered in by the celebration of all the Caribbean cultures populating Crown Heights, as they whined and waved down Eastern Parkway’s Labor Day parade route. My mom never forgot to bring her Haitian flag along with her Haitian pride.
Prospect park taught me and my cousins how to roller skate and ride our bikes, the Brooklyn Museum taught me how to appreciate art, and the creaky and ancient halls of the Central Public Library provided the perfect blend of quiet and noise for my most studious moods. A run along Eastern Parkway was a trip down the often separate but coexisting cultures of the Hasidic Jews, American, and Caribbean Blacks. The promenade downtown and it’s bleeding out into the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn bridge is still the perfect antidote to the worst of my moods, it’s cathartic power stronger than any half finished journal that’s eventually neglected.
This is the Brooklyn that loved me first before I realized how much I loved it back. Although many things remain the same, its landscape has changed in order to accommodate new demographics of people and new income brackets, redefining the place I used to know as a child, teenager, and young adult. This fact was part of my justification for deciding to go to a different state for grad school. As I write this, I realize how much this letter illuminates my insecurity about the decision the to leave, yet again. It’s the clichéd result of not realizing what you’ve got until it’s gone. Consequently, I repeat this daily affirmation in my head, that’s not as much for Brooklyn as it is for me. Because it’s always been there, like a parent that will never stop loving her child while she’s gone:
Even though you and I are somewhat on a break, I’ll be back soon, and back for good.