For close to eight years I lived in the borough of Wyoming, in northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s always struck me as such an exceptionally nice small town environment. When my parents were alive it was quite interesting. They were old and retired and we could always count on each other. Uncle Frankie was less than a mile away in West Wyoming. He’s also very old and retired. My parents both died last autumn and Uncle Frankie now spends most of his time living with Fran in southeastern Pennsylvania. Aunt Lauren and her family are the only other relatives I have anywhere near there and they live way over in the mountains of Harding and Dallas. After our father’s funeral Mary Anne and Steve reminded me that I should have to be confronted with a final decision over whether to remain in Pennsylvania, where I had already made an established life and reputation, or to come to Long Beach, New York, where I could be very close to them and other family members. I’ve ended up in Long Beach. Over the course of most of my adult life, as when I was a kid, I’ve always been very actively involved in the churches I’ve attended. When I moved from Lindenhurst to Wyoming, I automatically got just as active in Our Lady of Sorrows as I had been in Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Having done so, I made quite a few really good friends. I should suppose that now I can do the same thing in St. Mary of the Isle, Long Beach’s parish. Making new friends has always been somewhat of an annoying experience for me. Meeting new people in general has always made me uncomfortable. I’m hoping to join their local Knights of Columbus council here so that I can meet a really wide variety of new people. I’m a fourth degree member. I shall have to start going to the nearby lay Carmelite meetings too at Our Lady of Peach Parish in Lynbrook. I’ve never liked change or felt the least bit comfortable with it. The first significant change I can remember is the big move from Queens to Long Island when I was twelve years old. To this day I still refer to that time as an unbearably traumatic experience. Another major advantage of my being here is that now I can be much more available to visit my old schools for reunions and other functions in general. Now that I’m back in the same general area as St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst and St. John the Baptist in West Islip, it will be a lot easier to get back there to see old friends, including classmates and teachers of mine. The best way to convince me that a change is acceptable and even enjoyable is to keep on reminding me of all that it has in common with all that I’ve already gotten really familiar with anyway. Although many people equate the following of familiar patterns and habits with being stale and dull, I like it. That must be at least part of the reason for the fact that the Beatles have always been my favorites since I was around four years old. Change in a certain sense can be nice too but even then I’ve always most especially liked the kind of change that enables me to go back to things I can remember from days gone by. Absolute cold turkey change simply isn’t for me.
It occurred to me that because I’ve been visiting my sister’s family in the City of Long Beach, New York, for so long, I should maybe write about life in Long Beach. Officially I’m still a resident of the Borough of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, though. I’ve gotten to know Wyoming quite well by now having lived there since April of 2006 and I still don’t know all that much about Long Beach. My parents were both from northeastern Pennsylvania and I’d visited the region quite regularly since my earliest childhood, until moving there a while ago. I’ve always really enjoyed the Wyomings. It’s an exceptionally picturesque region with extremely nice scenery. Wyoming and West Wyoming-they share a common zip code, 18644-are such an exceptionally nice little suburban region. There are a lot of local businesses, including stores, restaurants, doctors, hospitals and lawyers, within driving and even walking distance of my neighborhood. They have an exceptionally nice mall only six miles away. The borough is very close to both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. In northeastern Pennsylvania there are churches-Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox-all over the place. There are many towns in the region that literally have several churches on each street. I’d always been quite involved with Our Lady of Sorrows on Eighth Street, and St. Joseph’s on Sixth Street. The parish is now known as St. Monica’s. The churches, along with all the equally prominent secular organizations, contribute a lot to helping the poor, and to making things run smoothly in general. Having met quite a few exceptionally good people in and around the Wyomings I know that the borough’s residents are as good as any I’ve ever met although they can also be as offbeat a bunch of characters as one could expect. Considering that it’s the kind of small town where everyone knows other people’s business there’s the problem of too much gossip. On special occasions the borough’s representatives have parades and other events to commemorate whichever milestone is referred to. Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth President of the United States, even visited the Wyoming Monument, a landmark from the U.S. Revolutionary War. He was only the third United States President, besides Rutherford B. Hayes and Theodore Roosevelt, to visit the monument. There are also a few drawbacks to life in the Wyomings, though. Northeastern Pennsylvania is a very mountainous region and winters are inevitably bitter cold with a seemingly endless supply of snow, rain and ice. Driving in bad weather is treacherous. Flooding isn’t so bad in the Wyomings but when it happens the surrounding boroughs are subject to quite a significant amount of damage. Because it’s so close to the Susquehanna River, fog is quie a major problem too. Because there are countless potholes in the roads driving even under the nicest circumstances is quite a chore. Wyoming Avenue and other roads have a lot of traffic congestion. Because of their history of coal mines, northeastern Pennsylvania typically has a higher than average percentage of deaths attributed to cancer. There is a lot of radon, as well as other carcinogens in the environment. Luzerne County in general is politically very corrupt. If I were the mayor of the Wyomings I should be determined to make the Wyomings as safe as possible from any excessive damage from flooding. I should also want to get something done about the potholes and traffic congestion, and to invest as much as possible into affordable health care. The wear and tear on people’s vehicles is an absolute nightmare. In spite of all the relatively minor inevitable drawbacks and inconveniences the Boroughs of Wyoming and West Wyoming are quite an interesting likable environment.
Fr. Justin Belitz OFM is the founder of the Franciscan Hermitage and author of "Success: Full Living," "Success: Full Thinking," & "Success: Full Relating." His teachings incorporate spirituality, science, and art for personal growth and development.