Emigration Diary: Moo-ving In
It was Cow Harbor Day on Sunday. This is a traditional annual festival held in Northport, where we live now, which was once known as Great Cow Harbor because cows used to graze in fields by the waterfront. Thousands of people filled the sunny, waterfront village for a parade and a funfair, loads of live music, antique cars, impressive motorbikes and the local restaurants had grills and hot dog stands out on the sidewalk to feed the crowds.
I love the place names here on Long Island. We’ve got the Jericho Turnpike which is lined with strip malls where you can buy absolutely anything. My favourite beach is in Sunken Meadow State Park. Our local IKEA is in Hicksville. We’re a few train stops from Amityville and I do most of my clothes shopping in Walt Whitman Mall, on the Walt Whitman Road, near the birthplace of the poet. We often take a stroll on the beach at Little Neck Bay, which borders Great Neck, the backdrop for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. We’re also five minutes down the road from the Vanderbilt Museum which houses the rather obscure collections of William K Vanderbilt II in his mansion on his former estate, Eagle’s Nest. It’s interesting and fun getting to know the local history. I guess that’s one of the advantages about moving somewhere new – no matter where you go.
My kids have started school and seem to be settling in well. My second grader is already using terms like ‘pop quiz’ (nothing to do with music) and ‘Show and Tell’. Football has very quickly become ‘soccer’. My Kindergartner goes in everyday with his ‘tote bag’ and ‘erases’ things when he makes a mistake. It is certainly not taking them long to pick up the lingo. I needn’t have worried about them fitting in. They seem to be doing just fine. They both go to afterschool club which they really seem to enjoy and have made loads of new friends. They’ve been off part of this week for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I was surprised, to be honest, that schools in New York were off for Jewish holidays, but there you go.
In the meantime, George commutes into the city to work. Although I don’t envy him the 70 minute train journey each way every day, he does seem to be meeting some glamorous people and visiting some even more glamorous places. He came home with some expensive men’s product last week. Someone had given it to him as a tip for installing blinds in her apartment. Is that the etiquette? I’d love to see the face of a UPC technician in Dublin if someone offered them male moisturizer for fixing their broadband. I think I’ll stick with handing over an extra couple of bucks for now. See? I’ve got the lingo going on too!
There are a couple of things I am finding it hard to get used to though. Turning right on a red light makes me feel downright rebellious every single time, but I’m beeped at ferociously if I don’t. I can live with the guy in the gas station filling my car for me while I sit there. I’m not really comfortable with cooking here yet. Chicken breasts seem outrageously large and there are sneaky artificial colourings and flavourings in quite a lot of products. There is quite a selection of healthier goods available. It’s just a case of me getting used to what’s good and what’s not and figuring out the best places to buy stuff. The choice is certainly available. It’s sometimes overwhelming. I’ve been working my way through my American cookbook for all the things I wanted to make before but couldn’t easily find the ingredients in Ireland. It always seems to be the case that if one child likes something the other doesn’t but that was the same in Ireland. No doubt we’ll fall into some kind of meal routine soon, even if it means each child only gets fed every second day.
So we really live here now. It’s starting to feel like we’re more involved in society, not merely vacationing observers. We’ve certainly been made to feel very welcome. I wonder how long it’ll be before we start to consider ourselves Irish-American? I don’t think it will take the children long at all, probably the adults a little longer. Maybe next year, we’ll even take part in the Cow Harbor Day parade ourselves.