Any creative writing class will tell you to start with writing what you know. Tonight I was supposed to be writing about my travels – about places far away from here, their cultures, and their foodways. That ain’t how this one’s gonna go down. I’m in the BK, Brooklyn, and I’m feeling a bit detached from the world outside my neighborhood right now. Today my mind has covered several continents, but in the end, I came home alone to this place that I love and that feeds my soul. So, I’m giving it it’s props.
NYC is a lot of things – a lot of cultures, food, people, experiences – all rolled into one. After a day in lower Manhattan taking in the sights and sounds of a warm sunny day spent with loved ones, the night didn’t turn out as planned. Instead of fighting it, I turned home to Brooklyn.
Where do you go when the world feels a bit too big, a bit too intimidating, a bit too cold? Where do you go when you are alone and need a reminder that you are part of something more? Brooklyn is a series of neighborhoods, each with its own haven, mine is the Donut Shop a.k.a. the Seventh Avenue Diner – a 24-hour diner that hasn’t changed a bit since the 60’s, and is just as clean and welcoming as I imagine it was back then as well.
I pass my diner every day at least once, and every time I walk by, I wish I were inside enjoying a perfect cup of coffee served by any of the ever-present waitresses who’ve been there decades longer than this neighborhood has been cool. The owners must own the building, or this place would have been gone a long time ago – victim to gentrification… a sad but necessary part of life in NYC. Though I’m fairly certain the place will far outlive my time here, I feel obligated to support it every chance I get… most of my meals out in my ‘hood are spent here.
Tonight is Friday and I am heading home at the time when my neighbors are just considering the train ride into “the city.” The diner is empty except a couple of die-hard regulars sitting at the counter… but not for long. By the time I order my grilled cheese and bacon on rye with a cup of coffee and a glass of water, then settle in with my book, the place is filling up with regulars.
I live in an area where you are either from here or you are obviously not. I, fortunately, look like I’m from here, so nobody notices me in my corner booth. This area was an Italian immigrant stronghold for some time before an influx of Latinos, followed by urban settlers looking for cheap real estate and good schools. Now, aside from its reputation for pseudo-intellectual, moneyed, super-breeders, it’s a pleasant mix of cultures, colors, languages, and foods… and we all enjoy the Donut Shop.
As usual, tonight’s meal hit the spot. I left feeling comforted that old Brooklyn still exists in a small storefront on Seventh Avenue and that I can get to it easily on my way home. I found myself content, even happy to be home in a place where, even alone, I am part of a neighborhood that goes on to the beat of its own drum regardless of time and changing faces. I may come and go, but the diner lives on.
Can’t wait to enjoy my marble stick donut tomorrow morning with my coffee… did I mention they had the most incredible homemade donuts ever?
Support local history… eat at a neighborhood dive!