This may have been the fastest year of my life. I didn’t think it would be. Frankly, until today I thought this would be the longest year of my life. It is no secret I did not want to move here. That’s not to say I didn’t want to take on this adventure of active duty military life. I wanted to do that. I wanted to travel the country, maybe the world, with my family. I still do. That plan did not involve Long Island, New York though.
I readily admit I came to Long Island with a bias. You hear all the stereotypes about this place: the horrible traffic, the rude people, the crazy accent, the horrible traffic, all you’ll eat is Italian food and bagels, you’ll be too poor to go to the beach because it’s in the Hamptons, and you can’t forget the horrible traffic. Well it hasn’t been all true but it hasn’t been completely false either. Our first interactions with our neighbors didn’t go so well. Apparently, we live on the “uppity” side of town, something we weren’t aware of when we chose this house. When our next door neighbor asked Tim if he “lived here or worked here” after he saw Tim mowing the lawn our first weekend here, we were definitely put off. I thought for sure we were destined to be friendless for three years. It was several shitty interactions like this that made me not make an effort with the parents’ at the school. In hindsight this is my biggest regret because some of our favorite people here are parents we’ve met through the school. I think of all that wasted time being afraid I would just get shut down again if I put myself out there.
When you think of Long Island / New York and food, you automatically think of pizza and bagels right? If you don’t, you’re in the minority. People rave about NYC pizza and by extension Long Island pizza; even our Realtor gave us his favorite pizza recommendation when we toured our house. Long Island has some good pizza, although not all places are created equal and it’s different than NYC pizza. There are some other really amazing restaurants but the one thing they have nailed down are the bagels. Oh my God, the bagels! We live across the street from dueling bagel shops and have our favorite (Bagel Cafe for life!). You will never find a bagel like the ones you’ll find on Long Island. It’s a struggle some days not to eat bagels for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because not only are they delicious and readily available but they’re also cheap.
A big struggle for us this year revolves around money. We’re not poor or scraping by each month but it can be easy to do if you’re not careful. Not everyone is rich here but it’s easy to fall into the trap of “keeping up with the Jones” and I suspect a lot of people here do that, especially on our side of town. Housing prices are not cheap though and neither are utilities; even people who live here all their lives say their salaries don’t completely account for housing costs. The one thing that does irk me here is the need to pay for use of many public spaces. Want to go to the beach? You need to pay (an outrageous price). Want to use some of the county spaces like pools and certain parks? You need a pass for that (and sometimes still need to pay). You would think with the amount of money paid in property taxes every year it would cover these things but nope. Everyone seems to have their kids signed up in camps and programs and sports throughout the year. When asked what our kids do during the summer, I’ve answered “nothing” and received many disbelieving looks. It can make me second guess myself at times but I have to remember the reasons we chose not to do certain things.
The one thing we were warned about any time we told people we were moving to Long Island was the traffic. I thought the traffic would be limited to the areas closer to Brooklyn and Queens. HAHAHA!! I was so wrong! Traffic is unpredictable and absurd and caused mostly because people on Long Island do not know how to drive. Sorry, friends, but it’s true. They’re aggressive but only after you signal to change lanes and they need to be in front of you and then they will drive at the slowest pace possible without actually stopping. No one knows how to merge but that’s partly due to the non-existent on ramps and acceleration lanes. Many times though there’s absolutely no reason for a backup other than the mass amount of people trying to go in the same direction at the same time.
A photo posted by Jennifer (@writtenbyjennifer) on
There have been a lot of ups and downs this past year. I tried hard, maybe too hard, in the beginning to find all the silver linings and blot out the not so great things. That level of effort could only last for so long though. Loneliness and the realization that this was our home for the next three years hit me a few months in and it was hard to see what was so great about this place. I could not understand why so many people live here and have no dream of ever leaving. My frustrations were only compounded (and still are) by the lack of community between the families in Tim’s unit and some of the politics of the unit. It’s mellowed out in the last few months though. I’ve found a small but great group of women who I consider friends. We get together for play time for our kids and we do adult only nights as well. It’s a nice feeling to have someone to turn to when I have a question, need the scoop, or have someone who just gets the struggle particular to living here.
Long Island hasn’t been horrible to us. In fact, I would say the last year has been pretty good. The kids excelled in school, they’ve been eager to embrace this place as home without question. We’ve explored quite a bit and still have plenty to do that could take us through three years. I remember standing in our empty living room a year ago and thinking how strange this house felt. It felt like that for weeks while we allowed it to grow on us and now a year later it feels like home after a weekend away. It feels familiar and comfortable; I know almost every sound and trick to it. Long Island feels the same way. I drive around now and know what to expect, not much is a surprise or foreign anymore. It’s reassuring. We’d never pick Long Island to be our forever home. If the Army told us tomorrow that we were moving again I’d be the first one to grab a box and start packing but I would also be hesitant to leave behind the relationships we’ve formed and the experiences we’ve had.
If you want to follow our time on Long Island you can find us on Instagram by using #MorrisonsTakeLongIsland.