A friend of mine, who temporarily relocated back from Amsterdam to New York City, where she is from, has been in town the last couple of months before she, her husband, and their 1-year-old daughter move to Hong Kong for work. She lives out in Jamaica, which is pretty much in outer queens close to where JFK airport is, and that’s also where she grew up. When we’ve met up for dinner when she’s either been visiting from Amsterdam or back in town this last month, it’s always been in Queens… not necessarily because she insisted upon it (she really did not), but more because I thought, hey, this would be a great excuse to go to Queens since pretty much no one else wants to go there with me to eat (other than Chris when dragged and especially for dosa, and my male “travel for food” friends). While all of New York City is a foodie mecca, my heart will always be in Queens for the variety of cuisines. And given she has been away for so long, it’s also an excuse for her to eat the food of her own borough which has been sorely neglected. She had an endlessly long list of restaurants specifically in Rego Park and Forest Hills that she wanted to try, so we chose a Georgian restaurant from it (that I’d actually already eaten at, but loved).
“You’re the best! I don’t know anyone else who wants to come to Queens to eat the way you do!” she enthused.
Yeah, for the most part, her commute would be shorter than mine, but I don’t even think of it that way. I just want to go there, eat, explore, and also catch up with her, of course. So this isn’t hard at all for me.
I was telling my colleague this before I left the office, and she groaned at the idea of going to Queens. She lives about 15 blocks from the office, walks to and from each day, and thinks that is too long of a commute. Her mom lives in Elmhurst, but she refuses to go there, so her mom always comes into Manhattan to see her. “That is soooo far,” she grumbled. “Why would you go out there just to eat? You should have asked her to meet you somewhere in Manhattan.”
“Um, do you remember anything about me?” I retorted back. “Plus, the food is so good in Queens!”
This colleague is not at all alone in this attitude, though, and it’s always driven me crazy about people in Manhattan. But then I realize… it’s not even a Manhattan thing. The people who live in Flatiron or Union Square don’t want to leave downtown. The people who live in Hoboken don’t want to go anywhere that’s over a 15-minute drive away. The colleagues I have in Willamsburg don’t want to leave Williamsburg or any neighboring areas of Brooklyn. The laziness is pervasive of pretty much anyone who has some level of privilege and doesn’t *need* to go to another neighborhood for things like food, groceries, work. And not everyone is lucky enough to have that ability.
New York City is a big place, and there are still so many parts of it I haven’t explore enough. And I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t know about the other neighborhoods of her own city. I think my mind (and stomach) would benefit from this exploration.