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i love it here. i hate it here.

[This took me forever to do. Forever, I tell you. So you will click on each of the photo links and then you'll tell me how reading this post was the most riveting experience of your entire life. Or not. But just know that it took me forver.]

Long Island, Long Island, it's a hell of a town, where the prices are up but the crime rate's down...

Forbes Magazine has named Long Island as the safest place to live. Yet out of 150 cities/town, it ranked 142 out of 150 in cost of living, making it one of the most expensive places to live. [via Late Final]

Such is the give and take with this place, which I have come to have an intense love/hate relationship with, a place that I will never, ever leave.

So what keeps me here on Long Island, in a place where I can barely afford to live, where the house we bought one year ago this week cost nearly half a million dollars and sucks us dry with property and school taxes? What keeps me here despite the slow crawl to work - a 12 minute commute turned into a 40 minute nightmare on some days?

I'll tell you. In a photo essay.

First, there's my family. My parents, my sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins. I grew up with my cousins as my best friends, my kids now have the same. A short walk around the block and there are ten kids, all related, ready to play baseball or swimming or just hang out and play video games. It's a benefit that cannot be outweighed by anything, not even rural night skies or wide country lanes or peaceful nights without the honking of horns and the sounds of sirens disturbing the sleep.

It's the four distinct seasons with blizzard-like snowstorms and thunderous summer rains and autumn trees that light the sky on fire. It's the snow days when everyone in town gathers in the same spot and we watch our kidsslide down the same hill that we tumbled down as children. It's the familiar faces at school, the music teacher that has been there since time began, the way the cashier at Burger King remarks on how much your son has grown, the way your neighbors and the local deli clerk and the postman all show up at the funeral of your grandfather.

We are in the middle of nowhere if we want to be, but in the middle of everything should we desire it.

We are a pleasant drive from the tip of Long Island, where we can see beautiful sunsetsand wave to passing boats. We are ten minutes from the beach, where we can swim in the Atlantic ocean until sunset and watch as the sky turns a hundred shades of beautiful.

Long Island has its own museums, its own places of beauty and reverence, a whole history to explore and nature trails to walk. Aquariums, arboretums, bird sanctuaries and miles and miles of beaches, parks and wood all lay before us.

People stay here. My kids go to school with children of the people I went to school with. This is not a town that people pack up and leave in a hurry when they get married and start families. We are grounded here. We are settlers.

I love it here. I hate thetraffic, I hate the cost of living, I hate the way strip malls have permeated the highways and barely a tree standing. But I love it here.

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Comments

I still stick by my original advice. Gather your entire extended family, convince them all to liquidate all of your LI holdings, and you'd have enough to buy about half the state of Kansas. You guys could take over an entire town. And still have enough left over for a private fleet of Gulfstreams to 'commute' for shopping in 'the city' (and take about as long to get there)

Plus still have money left over to light cigars with $50s....

That was nice. Real nice. I always love seeing someone's tribute to home.

Makes me think I might want to do the same kind of thing when I'm back home for a good long stretch this summer (the first time in the last five years all the family will be together in one placefor more than a week).

Yeah, I'd rather live many other places, but Noo Yawk is home. You can't put a value on that.

I go through something similar. Constantly arguing with myself whether it's better to stay in NYC or move back to NH. Although you're lucky that you don't have to choose. You have everything right there.

And besides, it's the love/hate relationship that you love.

I feel the same about Buffalo, except the only family I have here is my sister-in-law.

Gorgeous.

Makes me wish, in a way, that I was living now in the area where I grew up.

Awww, and New York to me will always be the land of those annoying yanks. With the exception of the author of this website.

Virginia Beach, Virginia rules all!

I've been fortunate enough to raise my kids not only the town I grew up in, but the same house....by a quirk of fate, we bought the house my parents owned and which was sold after my father's death in 1972.

There's something very special about having your kids go to the same junior high and high school (I moved here when I was 12)...watching them play soccer in the same stadium where I had my first real date (football game, circa 1969 - we held hands when he walked me home and the rustling of autumn leaves and smell of walnut trees in the fall still brings that memory back).

The town's population has grown from 23,000 to 93,000 since then, but the growth spurt has taken place on the other side of the freeway. Here on this side of town, the old Victorian houses and tree-lined streets haven't changed. The summers seem hotter, though...

"The Bronx is up and the Battery's down..."

On The Town is one of my favorite musicals.

I'm glad someone got the reference :0)

I'm angling towards a vote...you cannot be considered a Yankee...you're just another movie.

I'm moving back to the city I grew up in this September and can hardly wait to be close to family again after being away almost nine years to the day. Excellent tribute; loved the tobogganing pic especially.

(Minor, minor point if you felt like fixin' it up; I know how tedious code-heavy posts can be...the music teacher picture isn't a popup...)

I still miss Long Island. I miss Jones Beach and Little League parades. I miss skipping rocks into the Sound out in Southhold. I miss Nathan's hotdogs and warm soft pretzels. I miss neighborhood bars. I miss the food most of all, especially when I'm hunting all over Virginia for a #%$*$ decent bagel.

But you can keep the traffic, Michele.

I'd like to say I got the reference because there's a bit of a New Yorker even in this Montana boy. But really, I just have a thing for Vera Ellen. Woof.

(And it's a catchy tune.)

None of us can really help loving what and who we love. There are usually at least some drawbacks involved - that's just the way life is. Even with the various drawbacks, you're very fortunate to live in a place that has a strong sense of family and community and that obviously means so much to you.

That was a sweet and touching tribute, Michele...

Bird sanctuaries? Cool.

Thanks for the swallow picture.