My Hometown Perspective

My Hometown: Complex feelings and a desire to help

The view from the front porch of the author's home. (Rainier Harris/YJI)

South Ozone Park, Queens, NEW YORK CITY – I live in South Ozone Park, Queens. It’s a relatively obscure place compared to more metropolitan areas like Flushing. When you enter South Ozone Park, a sense of optimism and pessimism washes over you simultaneously. You feel like you can do everything and nothing at the same time.

It’s complicated. The fog of the early morning splinters the sun into blotches of light, peering through the dense trees, and hits me directly in the eyes.

The “cookie cutter” homes that abound in the neighborhood. (Rainier Harris/YJI)

The sidewalk is narrow, littered with chalk from neighborhood youth. Cars speed down the broad, gravel road, unaware of any pedestrians and cruise own down Conduit Avenue. Sometimes they are Fords or a Lexus, but mainly they’re sports cars driven by people from out of the neighborhood.

The houses that line the streets are cookie cutter, replicates of one another. Mine, however, is an outlier. With white siding and a green roof, it’s an abnormality of which my family is proud.

Our house is within white gates, with alabaster lions perched on each pedestal, opposite one another.

One of the alabaster lions that are perched atop the gateposts at the author’s home. (Rainier Harris/YJI)

Behind the white gates is the lawn, clearly outlined, sharing borders with the tiled gravel floor. The tiles are so tightly knit, you can’t even see between the cracks.  Up to the front step is the curved marble staircase clad in chalky white.  Even the walls within my house are white.

It’s a serene neighborhood, one where you would raise a family, but not a generational place.

The neighborhood lacks a sense of progression, of movement, of innovation, or of passion. It’s stagnant. But for some reason, my home feels different.

One day, I dream of returning to this neighborhood and uplifting it, imbuing it with more vibrancy. Sometimes, it can feel so dead and sometimes, whenever one of my neighbors blasts their radio down the block, it can feel so lively.

Just across the street, the neighbors’ children are handling fireworks in their backyard. The sound of them flying high in the air bounds seems to reverberate for miles. No matter the occasion, almost every month, fireworks go off.

Loud, soft, vibrant or dull depends on the day. It’s an apt place to call home.

The author’s home is unique in a neighborhood. (Rainier Harris/YJI)

Rainier Harris is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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