A Forest in New York City | Teen Ink

A Forest in New York City

November 24, 2013
By Eugii SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
Eugii SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
7 articles 10 photos 12 comments

When we first moved to the U.S. in 2002, we lived a tiny apartment in lower Manhattan. From morning to night, I’d hear sirens, cars honking, and the wee-wooing of ambulance trucks. In 2007, we moved to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. There were fewer cars, but the construction of condominiums across the street constantly woke us up on weekend mornings. In 2010, we moved to Dyker Heights. We’d wake up on weekend mornings to the rolling of bike pedals and the barking of dogs as they return from their morning walks. And last year, in January, we moved to Richmondtown in Staten Island. The most I’ve ever heard here is the tune of the occasional ice cream truck driving by.

Each time my family decides to move, we always house-hunt further from the world of concrete and bustling streets, and closer to surroundings of lush trees and quiet sidewalks. For my father, success as an immigrant means to escape the noisiness and chaos of the city, and to find a home where there are no disturbances of any sort, other than perhaps the wind.

For many months, I resented living in Staten Island. I missed window-shopping on the way home from school, greeting strangers by the neighborhood park, and the subway stations that brought me to Manhattan, where I missed living the most.

There were also times when I simply despised Staten Island because it lacked the “coolness” that one was supposed to feel in New York City. There were clothing boutiques, but they failed to feature any sort of distinct “street style” that exists in almost all the hip neighborhoods in New York City. There are Starbucks Coffee shops, but the conversations I overhear there are rarely amusing: “Wawna go ova to tha mawwl lata?”

But recently, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for my neighborhood. It all began when my mom found a shortcut to drive me home from school. Instead of turning onto Father Cappodanno Road right off the Verrazano Bridge, she’d turn onto Rockland Avenue. Rockland Avenue isn’t just an avenue--it’s a one-way road, with bumps and imperfections, carved out of a forest. As my mother drove down this road, along with other cars in a single-file line, all that surrounds us left and right are trees, trees, and more trees. Although we have been driving down this road for weeks now, every time I look through the car window into the forest, nothing is ever the same. One day, I noticed a dirty creek streaming beneath a leafy hill. Another, I noticed a small warning sign besides the creek that read "beware: live animals" with an illustration of a toad. And then there was the house--almost a mansion--in the forest on sale. Its ad desperately read "FOR SALE: 6 acres." Every time I look at the disorganization of the forest, I see something new: this morning, I caught sight of a trailer home and three abandoned school buses.

During the summer, this forest felt dark, mysterious, and spooky. This autumn, it has magically lit up into a world of golds and reds that glows at night. Its ground, filled with clusters of dried, fallen leaves, tempt me to hop in and explore deeper into this unpopulated world. This forest makes me wonder: why hasn’t anyone cut the trees down, and why have I yet to see a human being roaming through it? Perhaps something much more powerful than human beings resides in this forest, and no one dares to intrude. This is a treasure that no other part of New York City can challenge.

The author's comments:
My friends and I used to make fun of Staten Island, an isolated borough of New York City that isn't like New York City, by calling it "Stagnant Island" (haha get it?)

Deep inside, it took me a long time to fully feel Staten Island as my new home. This essay tells the story of one of my first attempts to find the good in Staten Island.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.