A couple of weeks ago, a friend to us here at JIA - Sweet Amanda, moved back down south to the land of the lone star. As we chatted away her last few days here, I thought it would be fun to get her "Goodbye Astoria" letter to post here. She was happy to oblige!
With a tear in my eye, I opened it today and read:
I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I left you. Since I last crossed 31st Avenue, cat carrier in hand, and climbed into the car that would take me away from New York for good. I left my cozy apartment that day, my sweet landlords who tearfully hugged me one last time as I slipped down the stairs. It had been the culmination of a very tumultuous several weeks, of packing and planning for the move ahead. Needless to say, I was not able to truly sit and contemplate how much I would miss you until now. And yet, I do.
You were the first neighborhood I called home in New York, as well as the last, dear Astoria. I had a short sublet just off Ditmars before moving to Brooklyn for a while, but I inevitably returned to you. I remember walking down 30th Avenue just a couple of months before I moved back, and feeling my mind just spin at it all. So many people, so many different languages, children, saris, burkas, people trying to sell me mobile phones. It was so different from the bucolic quiet of Windsor Terrace, where I had been living. It felt like a different country altogether, and I longed to return.
You were (and are) rather charming in this hard to quantify way, dear Astoria. A mix of old and new, both people and places. And of course, restaurants to satisfy any adventurous foodie. Toward the end of my time in New York, when I was to meet someone for dinner in Manhattan, I was at a loss of where to go. “I only ever eat out in Astoria these days - you pick something,” I’d say with a shrug.
Most importantly though, you are the place where I finally came into my own in New York. Perhaps it was simply that enough time had passed to finally feel settled. Or perhaps it was the vibe, the simple clicking with a place. Whatever it was, I felt at home. I made wonderful friends and gathered with them to idle in restaurants. We checked on each other’s pets and said hello in the store. I can’t begin to explain how important they were to me, how pivotal the strength of their support. I wish I could have brought them with me. But for now they remain there, among the din, the clatter, the sounds and smells. For me, those good times (and that good food!) will always stay with you, dear Astoria.
So while far away in Austin, I will often think of you and seek out those little reminders of that time in my life - whether it’s an e-mail from a friend, or the tiny tub of Sabra hummus I spotted at the grocery store last week. I was beyond thrilled to see it (their pitas, however, were sadly lacking). But hey, I’ll take what I can get of you, whenever I can get it, dear Astoria.