Or maybe I mean a New Haven dinosaur – either way, it doesn’t matter, the point’s the same – my east coastness is frozen in time.
Ok, some background. When I lived in NYC I took a trip out to Coney Island – I think it was roughly 2000. Now, I’ve never been to Russia, but after visiting Coney Island I thought I knew what Russia must be like. For those of you who’ve never been – Coney Island, and in particular, Brighton Beach, has a large Russian population.
But then my Russian friends told me I was dead wrong. According to them, going to Coney Island was like visiting Moscow in the 1960s. They told me that the folks from Russia who settled in Coney Island kept the culture of 1960s Russia and stopped keeping up with cultural shifts back in Russia proper.
Interesting point – you grow up somewhere. You’re trained somewhere. You start your life or career somewhere and you are what you’ve grown up in. But what happens when you move away? Culture’s always changing – and when you’re gone, it’ll keep changing without you. Would you even notice if culture back “home” moved on and you were stuck in the proverbial past – all the while self identifying as a person from back home?
Welp, I’m pretty sure it’s happening to me. I’ve lived in California for the last 6 years, but spent the first 25 years of my life in Connecticut and New York. I still feel like I’m from the east coast – oddball New York Jewish humor and all. But there are these little things that bite at me every time I head back east – and it usually centers around food. My favorite cafe in New York became a Tasti-D-Lite. Then I read, from California, about the owners of my favorite Vietnamese restaurant being arrested for violating labor laws (that one shut down!). Tonight, walking around New Haven, I discovered that my favorite Indian place is now also no more – they used to know me by name.
I’m not sure that I’ll be able to identify the subtle split between my old New York culture and present day. At some level, the world behaves the way you want to see it – and I frankly can’t really see that New York’s new “way” has drifted substantially from mine. That said, it’s pretty clear I’m at least really out of date on the best restaurants – most of my go to joints are now gone and I really have no way of creating strong bonds with new ones – I’m just not here enough. At the end of the day, I take this as a sign – I can’t see it, but I’m pretty sure I’m stuck in New York’s past.