I am here in Queens, NYC, spending the holidays with my family. I must say, this city is very different from our last home in Beaufort S.C, the place where time would take a cigarette and dust would accumulate on every bookshelf. Maybe I am feeling nostalgic at the verges at the New Year but I keep thinking about all the places where we lived with my family since we moved to the US, and all the things I liked about those places…
For example, I don’t think I miss Beaufort S.C, except for its lights and ghosts, its silence among the deserted streets in fall, its endless bridges connecting the islands, its African magic on the Bay area, the big sea shells dragged to the shore by the salt in the waves. It’s immense skies at sunset.
I don’t think I even miss Beaufort when I walk around Main street with Dad here in Queens, and every sign is written in oriental symbols that make no sense and Korean ladies sell me a fruit smoothie that tastes like bubble gum and gelatin candy. Where the largest sign hung in a building says: “ We can help you quit the communist party” and the Public Library of this Babel hires seven security guards to keep the peace and quiet. They yell at women to throw away their cigarettes while I read a book of poems by Charles Bukowski and little kids run around the aisles, and here is when I don’t miss the stillness of Beaufort, at all.
Maybe I am lying to you, maybe this picture explains it better. I am home, and looking down from the third floor of our apartment, and all I see is cement and a dead tree in winter.
But I will take the subway to Manhattan, go to political meetings with my Dad, and walk around the city more often. I will spend New Year’s Eve on Times Square and try not to get annoyed by all the drunken people falling asleep on the ground. I will learn to love this place too.
If there is something I am good at, it is learning how to call different places my home.