The sun shines on the calm, still Bay outside my bedroom window, the water sapphire blue and dotted with little white sails. It's spring, and the blossom is all out - cherry trees shimmer with vibrant pink, wisteria hangs pale purple on brick walls, azaleas light up green gardens with a splash of colour. There are ducks, geese, swans and herons with yards of our street; we saw a turtle in the duckpond the other day. It's beautiful, tranquil, a picture-perfect suburban town.
By day, schoolbuses and minivans full of Moms and kids roam the streets; by night, it's quieter, with only the odd car, skulking raccoons and, occasionally, the peace shattered by a siren and a fire truck. Restaurants close early; the one decent bar in town is only busy on weekend nights in the summer. On Saturday mornings, children play sports on the field by the bay, their parents sitting on the bleachers with cups of coffee cheering them on, wearing sensible jeans and sneakers. These are the sights and sounds of where I live.
Just 14 miles away as the crow flies, Manhattan rises from the ground like a series of spikes on the horizon. The buildings glint in the sunlight; the streets are dark beneath the skyscrapers. It's dirty, dusty, bustling with people. In Times Square, you can't hear birdsong, or see any wildlife (other than the people dressed in Elmo and Cookie Monster costumes). Yet it hums with energy, brims with life. You see glamorous women in heels and the latest fashions; transvestites crossing the street; hundreds of tourists with cameras. Everyone walks fast, and everyone's busy.
Going into the city, you are struck by the contrast with the quiet town you live in and wonder if perhaps your life has become just a tiny bit boring. But coming back on the Long Island Railroad, you appreciate the peace.
The island, and the city. This what I like about where I live. And I believe it is very unique.
This post was prompted by Michelloui at The American Resident, who has started a weekly "Where I live" series, for expats, and others who want to join in.