My Cousins From Bensonhurst

I am Italian. Well, Italian-American. If you want to be really specific, I’m actually Argentinian-Italian and Sicilian. My family care over here in the early 20th century. For the longest time, they lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. A few of my cousins and aunts and uncles still live out there. It’s a lot of fun to visit, because Brooklyn is really like the city, so different than the town in New Jersey where we live.

My grandparents live on Staten Island. We used to go there every weekend to visit. Now, we don’t go as often, because everyone is so busy. My two older brothers actually grew up on Staten Island. That’s where my parents lived until they moved out here. They lived in a neighborhood called Annadale. Staten Island is not so much fun to visit. I mean, there’s the Mall, which recently got a makeover, and there are tons of little stores.

But what really sets Staten Island apart is the food. There are amazing restaurants there. It’s kind of the middle of nowhere. In fact it’s new York City but it doesn’t feel at all like a city. It’s more like a Jersey town. I made friends with the kids on my grandparents’ block when I was like three. We still keep in touch and sometimes we even go out together to the movies when we visit. But not in a while. Probably since i was like fifteen.

Being Italian is weird. People make fun of our culture. They say we are “orange.” That isn’t a spray-on tan. That is my skin color. I couldn’t imagine people saying all that about any other nationality. There are dumb shows making fun of us. It’s kind of sickening. If you ask me Italians have a beautiful culture. And the cutest boys.

Italy Foods by Llee Wu by CC

The last time we drove out to Staten Island it was flurrying. My cousins and I went for a walk in the Greenbelt. It’s a gigantic woodland right in the center of the island. They also told me about a new website that features Staten Island News. It’s actually really interesting and has articles on all kinds of things and not only Staten Island. It’s kind of new so there isn’t all that much and it isn’t built up yet but it’s worth checking out because the writers are funny and interesting.

My cousins from Bensonhurst are the truest Italians. They still live on 18th Avenue where there used to be a lot more Italian people living. They all migrated to Staten Island and then to New Jersey. It’s like my family is one of the holdouts and refuses to move. My grandma’s sisters still live over there. They enjoy the life they lead. Their parents tell me about the 1980s when Brooklyn was the best place in the US to live. I wouldn’t doubt it. I’ve seen the pictures.

Bensonhurst by Scazza by CC

Brooklyn is actually the most different than my home town in NJ. There isn’t a lot of open space and all the buildings are made of brick. A lot of Chinese people moved into the area where my family was. Everyone gets along but it’s sad because a lot of the Italian shops have closed up. I’ve seen old VHS videos of the 18th Avenue Feast and saw firsthand how amazing life had been for these people.

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