After four years of living in this neighborhood part time, and two and a half years full time, I am moving out of the Ironbound. This is primarily because wife and I need more space, now that we have two kids. I think over the last year our cramped living environment, complete with a needy cat and barky dog, has been making us a little crazy. We are moving into a house in Maplewood this week, and are doing so with a mix of excitement and elegy.
On the latter point, the Ironbound is a special place, and hard to leave. By leaving here, I feel that in a way, I am moving back to America. In so many respects Newark is not America, but a place abandoned by America and left for dead. While the Ironbound is less economically devastated than other parts of Newark, its immigrant population and culture make it a place truly apart. Portuguese and Spanish are more commonly heard on the streets than English, and I stick out like a sore thumb. However, knowing that there was no way I was going to fit in here took a lot of pressure off of me. People are friendly in a genuine manner that still exists in Europe and South America but is absent in this country, where a dagger seems to sit behind so many smiles. More than the custard pastries, salted cod, Brazilian barbecue, roast chicken, and cheap and tasty Portuguese table wines, it is the manner and way of being in this neighborhood that I will miss the most.
Posts on this blog might be fewer and shorter in coming days because of this move. This may well be an opportunity to change the blog, because its title will no longer be applicable. In any case, expect some more reflections on the Ironbound, Newark, and the importance of place.