Crossing the BLVD

Years ago, a friend of mine used to host a “Silk Road of Queens” food tour, which he did to raise money for a nonprofit called Upwardly Global. Every year I was in town, I supported his food tour by attending. The first year he hosted the tour, he had a few prizes you could win if you answered different questions about culture correctly. I answered a few questions correctly, so I was gifted this book called Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, Neighbors, Aliens in a New America. I liked the idea of the book when I won it, but it wasn’t until this weekend when I finally pulled it off my shelf and opened it to read. The two authors, who are married and live in Queens, take three years to be “travelers in their own backyard” of Queens, exploring all the different diverse neighborhoods and interviewing people in each area to give a sense of what all these different perspectives are in the most diverse land mass in the world.

When I read the first few pages, I realized that that was why I moved to New York in the first place: I wanted to be in the center of all this diversity and experience what this city had to offer. I wanted to see and meet people different from me and get a literal taste of what their cultures were like. And in many ways on Saturdays when we’re home, that’s what Chris and I do: we are essentially travelers in our own backyard of all of New York City, exploring what our city has to offer in all its different boroughs and neighborhoods. We’ve never been the kind of people who just want to stay in our own neighborhoods or in our own borough. In fact, we scoff at and make fun of people who say ignorant things like “I don’t leave Manhattan” or “I don’t go north of 14th street” because we realize that those types of people would never jive with our life views anyway. I think spending my first four years living in Elmhurst, Queens, also gave me a really good perspective of New York, one that most people don’t get when they move to Manhattan. And it definitely gave me a deep appreciation and love of Queens that I will always have.

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