so i keep calling it a project because referring to it as a book is too much for me. a book is like, a thing. its kinda heavy. its a big deal. bad enough im identifying as an author. thats me putting my romans 4:17 to work. because otherwise i would feel no sense of obligation to live up to the the title.
the project is an urban love story of sorts. two people meet, fool up, get in their own way and decide whether or not they want to love each other. familiar route for many. and then of course, there’s the baggage. good stuff.
the story is set in my hometown of far rockaway, new york. far rockaway is a weird place for several reasons. i’ll just say because its a retired summer resort beach town turned ghetto sand box. its a neighborhood anchored by housing projects and nursing homes. it also hosts the obligatory stock of dollar/discount stores, fast food restaurants and liquor stores that most underserved, densely populated urban areas can count on.
one caveat that comes to mind when i think about far rockaway is the fact that its the last stop on every mode of transportation that services the area. or maybe its the first stop if you want to be optimistic. but if you’re from the area, the concept of the long ride home or paranoia of missing the last scheduled bus/train are staples of your commute worries. if you’re from the area, you’re not that optimistic about commuting.
i had a great time growing up there. great friends, experiences and memories. yes, crime, violence and drugs but that was mostly background music. i moved away and returned there hoping that i would experience the rebirth of the neighborhood. i didnt. i lived there until recently before giving up and moving to the suburbs.
the recently rediscovered area has been going steady with the infamous twins: revitilization & gentrification. their prom night antics will most likely result in the birth of a starbucks.
an imagined new and improved far rockaway, the one that i hoped to experience, is the backdrop to my project. my characters, urban semi-professional millennials of color, exist in a blend of authentic far rock and unicorn rainbow far rock. trendy shops, night life, young entreprenuership, promotion of the cultural arts – components of the neighborhood that i never got to experience.
i’ve had people physically take a step back when i tell them where i’m from. people who up until that point most likely regarded me as a quiet square who minded her business, which is true. my defense was that its a hood like any other hood. the response on several occasions was a slow head shake followed by a “naaahh”. while the neighborhood is far from perfect, it is burdened with dangerous and ugly assumptions about a particular demographic. but what else is new about the ghetto?
with the exception of hannah weyer’s on the come up, i havent come across another book set in far rockaway. woody allen’s film, radio days, featured far rockaway and rockaway beach but it was about the jewish experience in the 30’s. and woody is a creep. so here i am with my project, hoping to pay just a little homage to the place that raised me.
far rock, stand up.