Thursday, May 3, 2007

Op-Ed: Neighborhood Tales: Staten Island

The entrance to the South Ferry terminal. Photographed by Nadia Chaudhury.

By Audrey Quaranta

Well, I’m from a borough of New York City, anyway. It isn’t Brooklyn, it’s not Queens and no, it isn’t the Bronx either. That leaves “the forgotten borough”–Staten Island. I’ve lived in the ultra-suburban New Dorp area my entire life and continue to commute to and from Lang via the MTA express bus for about 3 hours daily. It’s the place where if you’re not Italian you’re in the serious minority, fake tans are a key trend amongst the youth (yes, they do turn you orange, so don’t try it), and the world’s largest landfill can be spotted from outer space. The MTV program True Life: I’m a Staten Island Girl exemplified the ruling social class–super suave, sporting perfectly gelled hair and gold jewelry bought with mom and dad's credit card. And yes, we all have those accents. Mine is not that bad, but I’m often surprised when a classmate asks “Where are you from?”

Still, it isn’t as painful as it sounds. One thing I’d never give up about Staten Island–besides having a car–is the close-knit group of friends that is so easy to form. Neighborhood hangouts draw the same people you went to high school with, and as years pass it is still easy to stay connected. If you’re broke on a Friday night, there’s nothing to do but congregate in a parking lot or in someone’s basement, but at least we’re all doing it together and turning it into a good time. And it’s such a small world over here that it’s almost like Cheers, where “everybody knows your name.” As out of place as I may sometimes feel on Staten Island–I don't buy my clothes at the mall or drive a nice car, and I wear what I want to when I want to–I know I’ll always have my childhood friends a short drive away. And when I’m really starting to hate this place, I just remember that it's the home of the Wu-Tang Clan and all feels right with the world.

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