Monday, July 21, 2008
After 11 years of living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I am heading east. Not east with a capital “E,” or east as in the Upper East Side, that foreign land of Irish pubs and Australian Ugg boots. On August 15, I will leave the shores of the Hudson and head over the East River and through the woods of Randall’s Island to Astoria, Queens.
Astoria, Queens: The land of $1200 spacious 1-bedroom apartments, ample street-side parking, and landladies that tend tomatoes and figs outside your door. How exotic! Only recently have I come to realize that my 350-square-foot, $1600 studio may not be a steal. Can I now abandon my prayers to the parking fairy, begin snacking on the foliage?
Georgia Ewen-Campen, another Manhattan transplant with a new lease in Astoria, sums up the transition as moving to a new city within one that’s familiar. “I’m kind of excited to explore a new place that I don’t know [within] New York,” she said.
The 28-year-old trans-borough New Yorker—Ewen-Campen also lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn for two years—laughs now when she thinks about her initial fear of crossing city lines. “It’s funny to think of how unsure we were moving to Brooklyn,” she said of her first move out of Manhattan five years ago. (She returned for grad school in 2005.) Now, many of her friends make the daily commute into Manhattan from across the East River.
So I suppose my journey across the Queensborough will follow a well-charted roadmap. I’ll also have a seasoned guide.
“You’re going to love the pace here,” my boyfriend Luke, a four-year resident of Astoria, has maintained. As we’ve plotted our cohabitation over this past half-year, Luke has introduced me to the pleasures of lazy Sunday lunches at the Il Bambino panini joint, home-cooked octopus dinners from the Greek fish markets, and jogging under the night lights at Astoria Park. To him, the place has a laidback “European charm…not counting the fake Greek columns and plaster of Paris.” It’s still Greek to me.