"A sense of place is the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.” —Rebecca Solnit
Staten Island, NY
When I was in high school, I would often take the train home after classes had ended. After disembarking at my station I would walk up a little-used staircase in between buildings that provides a shortcut to my house. Now, some time later, I recognize the uniqueness of that staircase as well as other things around my home, the North Shore of Staten Island, New York. Relishing these features on a daily basis is why I call this place home.
Everyday, the nearby Staten Island Ferry’s horn blows to announce its departure from St. George Terminal and beginning of its trip to Manhattan. In foggy weather, day or night, my often still neighborhood is suddenly flooded with prolonged blowing of the ferry horn that seems louder than it is on a clear day.
The unfettered sceneries of Manhattan as well as all of New York Harbor from this part of the island, situated on top of a hill, are second to none. When I walk my neighbor’s dogs at nighttime, I make two stops: first, to admire a dazzling view of Manhattan and its spectacular array of colors that emerge from its numerous skyscrapers and second, to look at the Verrazano Bridge and the light it shines on the water directly underneath it, as well as Coney Island in the background and its flashing, dizzying lights from its amusement park rides.
From my bedroom, I look out of the southeast-facing window where I not only see the Verrazano Bridge but, if I look closely enough on a winter night, I can see traffic lights more than two miles away in Brooklyn changing from red to green to yellow and back to red again.
During a summer night, I will lay in my bed with the window next to it open, the cool, soothing breeze gently relieving the hot, humid of weather of a typical New York summer day while the throaty, hi-revving sounds of motorcycles or muscle cars first emerge and then slowly fade away into the distance, their exhaust notes lingering for several seconds after they have passed.