August 12th was my one-year work anniversary. Normally, in B.C. (Before COVID), I would have celebrated with a dinner (and a few drinks) at a must-try restaurant in Queens or Manhattan. Afterwards, I’d probably walk along the water at dusk, and then stroll through Washington Square Park, my favorite NYC spot, for some live music and a view of the arch lit up at night. Next, I’d browse through the stacks at The Strand and buy a summer treat (paht bing soo!) from a cafe in Koreatown. And then … and then …
As I write this, memories of previous NYC summers arise, accompanied by aches of wishfulness and regret. Back in June, I decided to leave my beloved Astoria apartment because living there by myself in March was traumatizing. Knowing that I was close to Elmhurst, the epicenter within NYC — the national epicenter of the pandemic — reading the horrifying news (including corpse trucks and mass graves), and my father’s hospitalization tested all of me. It’s difficult to think back to a more uncertain time.
So I’m taking a much-needed a break from NYC. (Let me heal and return to you!) I’ve moved back in with my parents at their home on Long Island for the time being. Pros include my mother’s homemade Korean food, more space, clean streets and quiet nights, and priceless family time. (I was fortunate enough to hang out with my brother, who spent July at home before moving to Philadelphia, where he recently started his MBA program.) Cons: lack of food diversity (I’m craving the specials from Stamatis, black and white cookies from Parisi, as well as the Basil pizza and fried calamari from Basil Brick Oven), living more than 5 minutes away from water, and not being able to walk to anywhere interesting. (I’m a proud Long Islander, but I’ll be the first to admit that my hometown could feel like a cultural wasteland at times.)
How long will I be here? Not sure. If there’s anything that the pandemic (or BTS!) has taught me, it’s that tomorrow is a new day. Even though we lost 2020 to corona, I don’t feel that I wasted time. Since the start of lockdown, I’ve trained for a half-marathon (running 8 miles is no longer daunting!), learned to cook more dishes, improved my Korean, sharpened my business acumen (thanks to subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek), and undertaken other personal projects that shall remain unnamed until they’re completed.
There are days, too, of rest and relaxation. Today, for example, was a luxuriously lazy Saturday. After a busy week, I slept way too much and pickled some chayote with my mother. (Recipe here.) After watching some Youtube videos of incredible bento box making, I walked around my neighborhood with my younger brother, who is also at home. All things considered, there’s so much to be grateful for.
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