I used to have a co-worker and friend who would look at me sometimes and declare, “You’ve been here too long.” It was a private joke between us as we were both East Coasters, born and raised in New York. She had moved to Goshen from Connecticut for a few years because of her husband’s job. We bonded over our East Coast heritage and her accent and personality reminded me of one of my aunts.
I recently received confirmation that I’ve officially “been here too long” as I made The News’ “Back When” section of the paper. I was surprised to see my photo in that section a couple of weeks ago — the photo was taken when I was filling in for my youngest son at NorthWood’s Swap Day (and way before I began writing for the paper.) And when I saw the photo that was the first thought that came to my mind.
“Wow. I’ve been here too long if I’ve made the ‘Back When’ section!” I said.
And the truth is, I have been here a long time. Long enough that I have a history and roots here now. In a place where I once felt so out of place — an outsider, a stranger — I now feel at home.
I’ve started to become amused by the fact that I still consider myself a New Yorker when the reality is I’ve lived in the Midwest for the majority of my life. I moved away from New York when I was 18. But, I also know that is part of the DNA of native New Yorkers. The “once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker” mindset.
That’s nothing against the Midwest or any other region or state in the union. It’s just an inbred pride of being a New Yorker with all its diversity, cultures, challenges and uniqueness. The solidarity of friends who huddled together in lobbies of apartment buildings to keep warm in the winter that exists and maintains for a lifetime.