I Love New York, But I May Never Be A Good New Yorker

 

Creative Commons Wojtek Witkowski

Creative Commons Wojtek Witkowski

I may now live in North Jersey, but I put in my time living in Queens and Jersey City (which we considered a borough of Manhattan- I mean seriously, it is) for seven years.  I have also worked/trained/performed in NYC since my dad started taking me to auditions when I was ten.  Back then, I had the right to be terrified of NYC.  It was the mid-90’s, and no one wanted to spend a lot of time lounging in the delightful place it was then.  At that age, Manhattan was about large pushy crowds, walking much farther than I thought my little legs could carry me, intimidating auditions, and tunnels that kind of smelled like pee.  Going into work with my dad was always fun, and yes, I did love acting, but if these two things could have been outside of Manhattan, I wouldn’t have been heartbroken.

Another twelve years passed and the time finally arrived- I had to move to NYC.  I have always been an actor, and since the energy of LA will never be my style, I knew this was my destiny.  I started an internship with a wonderful company in 2010, and eased my way into the NYC life by commuting from home for several months. Then in September, I had take the leap.  I found roommates on Craigslist, put a deposit down on an apartment (more cash than I have ever handed over in my life up until that point) and settled into Astoria on September 1st.

I have to say, I was very lucky during my transition.  I had two part-time jobs going in (the internship and at Crumbs Bake Shop), and a fantastic boyfriend who lived exactly 11 blocks from my apartment, who had lived in NY for many years.  If it wasn’t for Ben, I would have shuttered myself in from the noise within a week.  Thus began my love/hate relationship with my time in NYC.

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Greetings from Fleischmanns!

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It’s amazing how a little town in the middle of New York State can remind me of my hike in Spain. Fleischmanns, New York, is a tranquil gem hidden among the Catskill Mountains, off a winding two lane “highway” freckled with an almaring amount of “Former Site of {insert town name}“ signs, depicting the complicated tale of lost towns during the redistribution of the NYC reservoirs. Fleischmanns, however, seems to have held on to its spot since the mid-19th century.

Room in our hotel named after one of the towns that was reallocated for the reservoir...

Room in our hotel named after one of the towns that was reallocated for the reservoir…

After winding through the mountains for 30 minutes, I told my husband to look out for the turn onto Main Street, that according to the map, was supposed to appear after very few signs of life. It seemed unlikely a Main Street could exist out here. But there it was, and there was Fleischmanns, a collection of about 15 shops, half of which long-abandoned with “for sale by owner” signs adorning their dusty windows. And yet, as I said before, I am reminded of the towns we hiked through on the Camino, and so it is not a place of desolation or sadness. As tiny as it is, the shop owners I chatted with seem enthusiastic and pleasant, and most importantly, proud of this strange little haven separated from the noises on the city.

When hiking the Camino, we often passed through small villages that once clearly experienced their heyday, and this just wasn’t it. And yet you can’t help feel that someday soon people will return to make this mecca a of writers, or skiers, or bee lovers. Whatever it is, its energy remains positive and peaceful, and no one seems to be put out by the town’s temporary hiatus from being a hip place to go.  I do have to say that is a beautiful area to lay out with a book and prepare for an afternoon wedding.

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Fleischmanns has several art galleries, a museum, a library, and a whopping three Mexican restaurants – one of which is apparently a gas station that sells terrific tamales. There is a town debate over the best tamale on Main Street.  How a town gathers such eclectic variety of businesses says a lot about its people. Though its population hangs around 350, I’ve been sensing it’s a mixture of New York hippies who escaped the city back in the 80’s, an Amish community, a Latino community passionate about Mexican-American food, and a large old white dog that we suspect is actually the mayor of the town. The dog trailed Ben and I for part of our walk but showed no interest in affection. I think he may have just been surveying his land and collecting property taxes.

Ben and I are staying at the River Run Bed and Breakfast, which if you enjoy staying in a real home, it’s the place for you. I’ve stayed at Inns where each piece of art is so delicately chosen and arranged that you are afraid to sneeze in the wrong direction, in fear of altering the Victorian vibe they’ve worked so hard for. Luckily, we often find places like this one here, where the owner and his basset hound will sit with you and tell you the story of the town throughout breakfast. I enjoy sleeping in
places that feel like someone has opened their home, and the mutual respect of space is expected and appreciated.

Painting for Barney the Basset Hound

Painting for Barney the Basset Hound

I went for a walk this morning and saw two very adorable young boys riding bikes, one older lady who must have been 102, a shop owner who tried to convince me to buy the house across the street, and of course, the large white dog. I bought one lemon and one book of travel poems, published in 1967.  Together, they were $2.  After this, Ben and I may go on a tamale mission and see what all the hype is about.

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It’s noon, so naturally the siren is going off, something I haven’t heard since living in Vernon, and reminds me that it’s time to get moving for the wedding at 3:30. If you find yourself up in the area, whether you’re autumn leaf watching, skiing, or would like to try three tamale places in one day, swing by Fleischmanns. I hope to report back later with more tales of the town, hopefully after speaking with the dog mayor of the town.