It’s been a great summer, arguably the best of my short 20 years. I’ve been living in New York for 2 months now and nothing about it has been stable. I’ve moved 4 times, done my fair share of couch surfing, struggled to find a job, wrecked my bank account, starved, gotten lost more times than I can count and yet by some strange miracle I’ve come to call a little place in Bushwick my home—for now. I’ve always lived for adventure; the best place I know is a few leaps ahead of my comfort zone and this summer has given me a gulp of the unknown, at times more than I believed I could swallow. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, the world, and the people in it. And through it all, maybe one of the most valuable things I’ve come to realize is just how lucky I am to have a place like Athens to go back to.
So here it goes, a definitive list of the things a part-time New Yorker misses most about a lovely little Georgia city:
First (but maybe not foremost) queso. Ask my friends—I’ve been ranting about this since I got here. I don’t know what it is but New York just doesn’t understand queso. I live in Bushwick—a predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood and I still can’t find queso. I would describe my need for Agua Linda as a deep, unparalleled yearning that cannot and will not be filled until I personally consume a large and ungodly quantity of melted cheese. Most people would call this an addiction and at this point, I accept that term proudly.
Second—being able to escape. I miss nature. The Botanical Gardens, Dudley Park, Sandy Creek, The Broad River, Redneck Beach, drives through Watkinsville, trees, drives, water, fresh air…etc, etc. Sure, New York has parks. Parks that are bustling with disgruntled New Yorkers desperately seeking some sort of clarity and escape from their over-crowded, over-worked existence. Sometimes it gets hard to breathe in this big city because everything moves so quickly. I miss Athens’ pace. The simplicity. Never again will I take for granted the ability to get outside and just sit alone. Never.
Familiar faces. You don’t really think about how much you miss familiar faces until you don’t have any. This doesn’t even include friends. I mean just familiarity. I miss the doorman at the Theater, I miss the guys at Lazy Shopper, I miss Mr. Lee, I miss recognizing bartenders, passing kind-of acquaintances on the streets, that one waiter at Thai Spoon that always gives nice compliments… I never knew how uplifting a simple smile of recognition could be until I realized they only exist in places like Athens.
I miss being able to walk almost anywhere I need to go, I miss downtown, I miss The Grit, I miss Rubber Soul, I miss the tracks on Pulaski, I miss sunsets on The Rooftop and drives and music and affordability and the feeling of home. To put it simply I miss Athens as an entity and I can’t wait to get back where I belong.