The Community and I:
Belonging: Its Satisfactions and Dissatisfactions
In Northrup, I have only to open my mouth and someone is sure to ask whether I happen to know any Greenbergs somewhere in the Bronx. But at the corner grocery on my last visit to New York the new proprietor looked at me curiously and asked, “Where you from?” I told him I had spent most of my life two doors from his store but he waved his hand at me. “You’re an out-of-towner. You know how I can tell? You talk quiet. You wait for your next. Listen,” he said as he piled the jars of baby food neatly into the paper bag, “I have a sister in Plainfield. Now how far is Plainfield from here? But in Plainfield the people are polite. It’s a different life when you leave New York. Even a bus driver sees you running, he doesn’t step on the gas, he waits for you. Tell me,” he said, “do you like it where you are? Some people say the quiet gets them. Do you really like it?”
I assured him that I did, but standing in his store between two heaps of cartons looking out at the cars and buses rushing by and the streets full of people, I couldn’t even picture our house on a little New England country road, the quiet, the tall old trees, the feeling of peace and freedom I have there.
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