8 Things You'll Only Understand If You Grew Up On Long Island
It's really only after you leave Long Island that you realize what an odd and eclectic and strangely privileged experience it was. For me, going to school in Pennsylvania meant realizing most people don't have immediate access to a beach or internship opportunities in New York in the summer. They were (and I'm generalizing here) far less concerned with aesthetics or "success," and generally had much... well... simpler way of life. I think it goes without saying that there are a lot of Long Island privileges that people don't even recognize until they don't have them anymore.
We Long Islanders, past and present, current and former, bitter and grateful, definitely have one thing in common: that being no matter what we felt about growing up, we were without a doubt stereotyped and grouped in a social class with either the Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives. And at the end of the day, neither is the complete reality. So for all of you who spent their post-high-school years explaining what it was really like, and whose fond memories fuel your summer adventures to this day, here are all of the things that you will only understand if you grew up on #StrongIsland.
You Grew Up On Long Island, Not In Long Island
And it's actually rare that you get through an entire conversation with a person you aren't already close with without them asking where you're from, commenting on your accent, or some other little dialectic quirk. (Recently someone pointed out how I say Masc-urrr-uhh, rather than Mas-kayr-ah. Shrug).
You Took A Stance On Either Side Of The Major Social Divides, And Have Stuck With It Ever Since
Z100 or BLI, North or South shore, Nassau or Suffolk, Mets or Yankees. If there is anything Long Islanders love, it's being manically, nearly psychotically proud of whatever side of any given issue they fall on.
Long Island Is Not At All What People Think It Is
They either think its an extension of New York City, the equivalent of a backdrop to the Great Gatsby, or a run-of-the-mill beach town/island with a fancy beach at the end. The truth is that it is all and none of those things at the same time. It's mostly a lot of suburbs lined with cape houses and second-third generation Italian parents.
There Were A Bunch Of Things Only L.I. Students Had To Deal With
You went on field trips to Old Bethpage, the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, the Long Island Children’s Museum or Walt Whitman’s home. You spent hours studying for your Regents exams, because you weren’t going to spend your summer worrying about taking the next one in August or January. You had to practice for months on end to prepare for NYSSMA. The list goes on.
... And Not Everyone Has Private Schools That Are Low-Key Gossip Girl, Just Minus The Glamour, And Plus A Lot Of Jesus Talk
You went or you know someone who went to Chaminade, Mercy, Sacred Heart, Trinity, St. John’s or Kellenberg, and you've heard endless stories from these someones who went to Chaminade, Mercy, SHA, Trinity, St. John's or Kellenberg, though if you're one of them (I am!) you know there truly are no words to accurately portray the reality.
You Were Considered Very Rich By Anybody Who Didn't Live There
... Even if, objectively, that was certainly not the case (or even far in the opposite direction), you just sounded like you were humble bragging and nobody believed you anyway.
You Partook In Now-Seemingly Insane Rituals...
What the hell was up with those (actual) super Sweet Sixteens? The sad and insane truth is that I have been to Sweet Sixteens that were nicer than probably most weddings, and definitely cost more. To celebrate ... what, exactly? Nobody knows. I've always assumed we're all just keeping up with the Joneses...
There Are Mysteries That Will Perhaps Never Be Solved
What was the purpose of that pencil-looking building by Jones beach? Why was changing in Jamaica the worst fate to befall you? Why did you go to the city so infrequently when you lived a short train ride away from it?? These are the questions you've wondered for a lifetime, and may still not have answers to. Alas, you must carry on.