Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jenna: Getting Back to My Roots

I'm from Brooklyn. Deep Brooklyn, as we nicknamed my neighborhood in high school. The area I describe is technically called Gravesend (sounds charming right?) and is approximately 15 minutes (or 5 stops on the Q train) from Coney Island, and a little bit east of Bay Ridge. Most of my friends from high school were from Park Slope and we'd spend our free days roaming up and down the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights, lounging on the beach until curfew, or playing skee-ball and riding the Cyclone at Astroland.

I was born, raised, worked, and went to school in Brooklyn until I left for Indiana for college. And it wasn't until I lived somewhere completely different, that I realized how much of my personality has been shaped and defined by the place that I come from. It completely affects the way I relate to the world around me. It's also proved a challenge in my dating life, as well.

With the exception of one or two fine fellas I dated at IU, I never really felt like I had much in common with most guys I met in college. I had a close group of friends from all over the place, a lot from the midwest, that I got on with swimmingly, so it wasn't like I was close-minded about not having anything in common with people from outside of New York. But for some reason, those differences caused more of a rift when it came to romantic relationships. Maybe it was a communication thing, or a perspective thing, I'm not quite sure...but it often felt like there was a part of me that I felt like no one I dated could understand in Indiana. I believed someone had to understand where I was from to really "get me". I have a friend from Brooklyn, when reminiscing about her first boyfriend, the quintessential guy from Bensonhurst, wondered if she could ever truly be happy with someone who didn't grow up where we did. Who's favorite pizza wasn't a square slice from L & B, for example. At the time, I agreed with her.

Since I've moved back to New York and still meet people from all over the place, my opinion has changed. Now that I've got the home advantage, I've realized how exciting it can be to share all of those things that you associate with home with someone who's never experienced them. There's something very romantic about taking a guy for his first ride on the Wonder Wheel or introducing someone to the best bagel store in Brooklyn (Brooklyn Bagel Boys on Ave. Z and Coney Island Avenue). Not to mention that it's great fun to learn about where other people come from and what makes them tick. Those differences in the way you see the world can make a relationship that much more dynamic and exciting and allows you to expand your horizons. The place where I'm from will always be an important part of my life that I'm eager to share, but I no longer think that a New Yorker only dating policy is the way to go.

This post sort of just turned out to be a love letter to Brooklyn. I think I'm okay with that. If Brooklyn was a dude, I'd totally marry him. On the boardwalk next to the Parachute Jump, of course.

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