Pondering the Meaning of Family, Hurricanes & Gratitude with Friends
I have lived many of places in my life, all over the USA and a few places abroad. When I moved to Brooklyn nice years ago (yes it’s been that long!) I felt like I had come home. Now it’s not like the people are pouring their hearts and souls out and inviting me in for tea and crumpets each and every day. On the contrary, New Yorkers and Brooklynites, are a bit rash, a bit impatient, direct, and certainly have a bit more assertiveness than the ordinary American. However, they are real and for me that is the one quality that gives Brooklyn and all the neighborhoods throughout all the five boroughs a great sense of community and family. There is something about New York in general that allows for this simultaneous comrodery or family spirit all while allowing for a certain independence or freedom. Maybe it’s the fact that New York is for the most part a transplant city. First the immigrant history and then the transplants. People that live here have roots all over, their families live all over the country and the world for the most part and so they are connected to the idea of the need for family communities right here all while keeping the distant ones alive as well. There are pockets of family communities all over Brooklyn, places where people call home despite no blood relatives living near them. Long and short term friends that listen and support us as we move through life with this New York spirit of creativity and freedom of sorts. It doesn’t matter which community you move through in New York and Brooklyn, you see these family communities alive and thriving. Now we all know that New Yorkers have a bap rap for being cold, abrasive, short and disinterested to the average tourist that visits, but the truth is New Yorkers are busy people and there is less time for tourists in our everyday lives, this is true, but it is also true that New Yorkers are genuine so they are the first to tell you they have no time, they are also ready to help and genuine about it to the tourists as well.
So back to Brooklyn and specifically my neighborhood of Park Slope where I have lived nine years now in the same place on Prospect Park. In Brooklyn as in most family community’s food and family go hand in hand so it’s no wonder that a great part of my Brooklyn family revolves around food, especially for me since I am attracted to it like a magnet! I have become genuine friends with many of the local restaurant owners and those who work at these establishments. The same goes for the food stores, whether it be wine, beer, cheese, or groceries. These folks know parts of me that my blood family doesn’t get to see that often……my habits! Those who know your habits know a real part of you and when we live in communities amongst each other we begin to learn these things. What we eat, when we eat it, what we buy, who we come there with, how much we drink, what we wear etc etc, these things have a way of creating a bond with our community, habits are part of who we are, we also genuinely get to know these folks by frequenting their establishments day after day, so it’s no wonder that these communities begin to take care of one another often times the way families used to. Even down to giving small loans to each other. In most cases food is involved and for me this long tradition of breaking bread together really is important in this mix and I think Americans tend to miss out on this concept often, “families who eat together, stay together” and this goes for community and extended families as well! So I guess the moral of the story is look for family in your community, eat together, grow food together, make food together and support your community family, like Brooklyn does!
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