I’ve been back living in New York City for over four months.
Life was strange at first, but I became adjusted.
Being in the United States of America, especially here, its biggest city, it is possible to get so much exposure to the rest of the world. Apart from the international scale, the traditional US lifestyle and set of customs for those of us whose lineage has been here for generations does possess its own unique factors that can be considered truly American.
Since this is such a big, diverse and complicated country, you can also feel like you fit into your particular region, and the rest of the country and world will always be compared to from that perspective. I’ve always considered everything in the perspective of being from New York and from America, and since I’ve recently returned, I’ve gained insight as to how to compare many other places to here.
As predicted, I do miss many factors about life and travel in Asia. However, being so close to 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, I simply need to walk a few blocks to have bits of my nostalgic cravings shortly appeased.
For instance, I can get all of the cutesy kitsch I want, no short of any glitter or pastels or big eyes.
(Though I don’t usually want it).
Of course I’ll get reminded of some less desirable components, and this brings me flashbacks of such interesting markets I passed through in Asia.
But then I can just walk into one of the 8th Avenue bakeries, and be reminded of something I enjoyed in a different country, thought about how much I would miss it when I departed, and then just be able to obtain the same thing in New York City.
If I get too caught up in Asian references and travel memories, I can always just head down to Sunset Park, take a pause, observe the Manhattan skyline, and realize my surroundings.
Good Fortune, a local Asian supermarket, also calms my desires for edible consumer goods from the East. When I lived in Daegu, South Korea, I would become excited when the pasta selection in the tiny “Foreign Foods” section of the hypermarket, E-Mart, would offer more noodle options than just standard spaghetti, or if there was more than one version of canned baked beans. In New York City, I can have an entire market of my missed overseas options, plus some new ones.
From Korean rice dumplings to Taiwanese chewy sweets to Southeast Asian fruits, I can access all of the exotic treats within such easy reach.
Again, I can always just step out and realize where I actually am. Biting into any of these foods will take my mouth and mind back to foreign lands, and I am satisfied that I can achieve such a phenomenon in local settings.
Early mornings at Leif Eriskson Park always have something new to offer.
The most consistent practice is Tai Chi, but I’ve also seen sword dancing, coordinated pop-music choreography, exercising on stationary machines, erhu playing, Chinese newspaper reading and general socializing.
But apart from bringing me back to where I had been, it’s nice to have things that look truly American and truly New York. When you travel elsewhere, you are sometimes met with a line of imitations of your own culture that never seem to match up to the feeling you get from where they originate.
It’s even pleasnt to have the surrounding New York City scenery when you are presented with the urban environments that represent instances of foreign cultures.
And then to get away to experience other places, I don’t need to turn on the television or read a book, but simply to walk down the street.
I enjoy being back. I enjoy being reminded of my travels. I enjoy having left, gained the perspective, returned, reminisced and been reminded.