Tag Archives: New York City

Going Home

pexels-photoI think I am feeling a bit maudlin or nostalgic.  There are many writers who comment on the concept of going home.  For sixty-four years I have always identified home as New York City.  I have lived in Massachusetts more than two thirds of my life and yet I still feel, or realize, that I have felt that New York is my home.  This May, it will be ten years since my last parent, my mother, died.  Since that time, I have only been back a handful of times.  More recently, I took some time to really consider why I have been resistant, almost avoidant of going back to visit.  My FHB has never been a New York City fan.  He grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and never yearned to be a part of the city I grew up in.  We would visit my mother on a fairly irregular basis but we never spent a lot of time there.  Extended family and friends still call it home, but there too, we just stay away, despite invitations and opportunities.  There are several older cousins of my father, who still are around and they are in their eighties and nineties. I am painfully  aware that they are the last links to that generation.

My father has been gone almost nineteen years.  His death was sudden, and defined for me the concept of being a half orphan.  It meant that I had lost fifty percent of my childhood responsible adults.  My mother kept going for another nine years and she loved “The City”.  She would travel in by subway until she decided bus rides were easier and she was never in a rush, even if she was running late.  She took full advantage of all that the city had to offer whether it was the New York Philharmonic or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  She stayed a part of the city scene which kept her vital and engaged in the world.  Then, she too, left quickly.  My sister and I reeling from the loss, packed up her apartment of 58 years, and took what we wanted as memorabilia of a life we shared and moved those contents to Massachusetts. My sister continues to visit the city and maintains a strong connection to the culture.  It was actually her gift to my FHB and to me, that now makes me contemplate a visit and a re-entry to the city that still holds so many memories of a childhood, teenage years and a early adulthood that I had put aside.

“Come From Away” is a Broadway show that my sister wants us to see. She says it is something she believes we would love and enjoy. We have the means and now the motivation.  I love Broadway, or at least I grew up loving Broadway.  My mother would bring us regularly to see musicals.  We listened to the albums and learned the words and sang the songs.  It was magic.  I know I miss the magic.  We watch the Tony awards annually and talk in vague terms of going to see a show.

We live in the safety of a small city which has music, museums and theater.  We take regular advantage of all it has to offer.  It’s not New York.  As winter digs in I know that spring is really only nine weeks away.  We forced some narcissus bulbs several weeks ago and we have lovely white fragrant blooms.  In the dead of the winter, we have spring in our loft.   The flowers of Park Avenue in spring, and the blossoms and green of Central Park as the city comes alive,  are memories I have and I want to make again. As children we used to dress up in coats, hats, and white gloves to celebrate the spring.  I’m not sure those will be in our suitcase but I remember the city being welcoming and open to strangers from all over.  I have a feeling it won’t take too long to be in a ” New York State of Mind”. I’m going home.



Missed Perceptions


The expression “I was waiting at the airport when my ship came it” comes to mind.  The last Monday in July and I had a lot of places to go and subsequently a lot of time to channel my ADD (maybe ADD-H)  and consider all the things I didn’t do and whether opportunity knocked and I was in the basement and whether it really matters or is part of the big, gigantic plan from the universe.

If you take a good look at the railroad crossing, you will notice the gates(not sure if that is the technical term) are going up or going down. I am sure if you are a train person or have a trained eye (sorry), you can assess whether the train was on it’s way past or had already passed by.  Time is up.  The train had passed and I missed it.  I was looking forward to seeing it rolling along and counting the cars.  By the time I got to the point where I had to stop, I realized that I didn’t actually  know if it was coming or going.  Then, please follow this very circuitous train of thought…. (sorry about the puns …I must have taken an extra Vitamin B obnoxious), did it matter in my life, at that moment and would it matter.  I quickly determined that lots of things may present themselves at any given moment,  but we don’t necessarily avail ourselves of them.  When I was in middle school (which in New York City was called a junior high school) we had choices about which high school we might want to go to.  Several of the magnet high schools required an entrance exam.  I was allowed, by my parents, to take the exam for the High School of Music and Art, not to be confused with the High School for the Performing Arts (of “Fame”).  I applied for the Arts program and I was accepted.  It was not in a good neighborhood in Manhattan and bordered Harlem. It was the 1960s.  Someone was murdered in that neighborhood, shortly after I got the acceptance letter, and that dream was dashed.  My parents worried about the commute and rightfully so, I can say in retrospect and yet, maybe my “destiny” might have taken me on another path.  Oddly enough Paul Stanley of “KISS” would have been a classmate had I attended and then more oddly, Bruce Kulick another short term member of “KISS” was a classmate at the high school I ended up attending.  I didn’t really like the band so I guess it is of little consequence.

Ending up in Massachusetts has hardly been the end of anything.  It was the beginning of finding out what has unfolded after 41 years of moving out of “The City”.  It has all the components of a wonderful story with romances, successful and failed, parenthood,  and grandparenthood.  It encompasses learning what my curiosity about people would lead me to professionally.  It showed me how to move, and move again and then again, and how to pack up memories but discard the ones that I don’t need to dwell on.  It showed me how to forge new friendships, and to let go of others that did not endure.  It’s hardly a  “Tale of Two Cities” though it did have the best and worst of times.  It was about understanding being patient when a train goes by, because it wasn’t my train.

The end of the alone part of my day landed me at the beach at three in the afternoon.  I knew that as I arrived, people were packing up to head on their way.  I waited patiently for the stragglers to leave.  I was alone with the beach and a few seagulls.  I used to get angry at my parents for bringing us to the beach on Long Island late in the day, long after the concession stand closed, and long after the crowds had left.  By the time we got there, we missed the action, but the beach was deserted and it was ours as far as the eye could see.  I think they knew the secret of timing for the right reason.  The beach will be there long after we are gone. Nature, the equilizer, that calms even the most ADD of us.

Snow Daze

Winter Weather NYC

The best thing to happen on the Monday after Daylight Saving Time is a snow day on Tuesday. It softens the blow that accompanies that disoriented feeling as though you have travelled through a time zone only to realize you wake up in your own bed, and not in Chicago.  My colleagues at school were walking around after lunch checking to see if school had been called off for tomorrow.  It was like waiting for your potential lottery ticket and hoping you have at least four out of five numbers if not the winning ticket.  Yes, we have a winner (winter?). Despite living in New England for the past forty years, it still stymies the best of us as we somehow forget that this is the region that can see a hint of spring in the air and feel the hope and the joy, akin to the Red Sox before they broke that curse, only to be shocked to find we may have another winter storm in March.  After all is said and done, we have zero control over this mystery called weather forecasting and radar and maps and just as we always do, we wait for the text, or FB message or in my case, the RI Broadcasters Association to give a thumbs up and declare ” New Bedford Pub. Schools. Closed Tomorrow”.  Sweet words even though it means in June we are still in school as spring then turns to summer.

I was trying to recall snow days in New York City.  I know we had them and yet somehow they didn’t leave as much of an impact as they do now.  Maybe we were  heartier souls.  New Yorkers are a tough breed.  I remember lots of hurricanes coming through and post storm downed trees, and mayhem in the neighborhood, with debris everywhere and schools closings. In the sixties and seventies we had Hurricanes Donna, Agnes, Doria and Carrie.  We might have lost power, but as long as I had my friends to play with in the apartment building, my sister and I didn’t have to go far to be entertained.  I imagine my parents were glued to the radio and television to watch the weather patterns.  After the storms, it felt like we were all Dorothy waking up after the twister, and there was sunshine and it seemed like a dream and we certainly weren’t in Kansas.  School years seemed about five years long.  Snow didn’t stay  long on the ground and it turned to dirty gray pretty quickly because of the cars.  The corners of the blocks were usually piled high with snow mountains and crossing streets was somewhat treacherous but if you fell, it was fun even if you fell in murky, icy water.  The storm drains worked furiously taking away the melted snow.  The supers who were responsible for clearing paths in front of our building, worked to move the snow close to the curbs and usually blocked access to the cars parked on both sides of the street.  Once the snowstorms passed, you would see people out with shovels trying to find their cars under lots of snow and little place to put the snow, which seemed to end up in the streets.  I was glad I wasn’t a grown-up so I didn’t have to help.

The anticipation, even after the snow day is declared, is couched in wondering when the snow will begin.  The storm is predicted to be blizzard-like and regions north of us might experience several feet.  The winds are supposed to be fierce with whiteouts. It all sounds so dramatic and the plows are ready for business.  Sometimes it takes a snow day, when we are “forced” to stay in and stay put, to bring that feeling back fifty years or more.  I can look out the big windows and watch the storm come through and I can settle in and do something that doesn’t look  or feel like work.  Loft living means no shovelling and losing power is rare.  It’s like a weekend day without errands.  Family will call from the other side of the country to check if we are all right.  We have bread and milk, and enough food to make it through the rest of the month, if not into April.  No need to worry, we’ll be just fine.  Thanks for worrying, though.  We are New Englanders, with a little bit of New York swag.

Songs of my youth

I love music. I love humming along with songs that fly into my brain through my soul.  The moment I hear a song that brings me back, way back to being a teenager, is exhilarating as I completely remember where I first heard it, who I was with, and what time of  year it was. There were compilations of what I remember to be summer songs.  The Beach Boys were the kings of summer with their California lyrics of fast cars, girls they loved, and lots of high school moments.  Just writing this makes me smile and remember.  The harmony and lyrics are so easily captured and oh so humm-able (a new word you are welcome to share). When they sang “See You in September”, there was never a July or August that didn’t make me think of what that meant.  I was a counselor at a day camp for several years and there were the songs that you sang on the bus, including but not limited to “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”.  I was very shy and often listened and imagined singing along, and as I got older I joined in, as though my membership in the singalongs were part of my rites of passage.  The songs that I associated with summer romances included lots of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. When at 13 I had my first boyfriend, an older boy who was 16, and by the end of summer, it was a case of “Young Girl Get Out of My Heart” as I was dumped for someone else.  I still like the song, not so much the creep who left me for someone else.  I still had the music, if not the guy.

Growing up in NYC in the 60s and 70s meant I got to go to concerts in Central Park. They were part of the Schaefer Festival that included The Young Rascals, Hugh Masekela, Moby Grape (!), Sergio Mendes, Blood, Sweat and Tears and so many other historical figures in Rock and Roll. It was amazing to be part of this huge crowd, and be allowed by my very protective parents to take a subway into Manhattan with my best friend,  and witness these amazing bands, some of whom were just starting out, and some of whom were the roots of a revolution.  Tickets were $2.00, first come, first serve, pizza slices were 15 cents and 45 rpm records were under a dollar.  The music resonated through the crowds and it was as though you were part of an undulating mass of people, sharing the energy.  New York had the Fillmore East and I remember going to hear “The Band” and  standing in line watching the people in all sorts “That 70s Show” clothing except that this was the real deal.

My friends and I collected small cases that we filled with our 45s.  My best friend was much more organized than I was and she was the librarian of my collection,writing down the names and artists.  They were covered in psychedelic  prints called Op Art.  Yes, I still have them,despite giving up my record player and turntable long ago.  Listening to them over and over and over again till the grooves were like worn down tires.  We were the groovy generation and it was sweet.  At the end of the year, Cousin Brucie a.k.a. Bruce Morrow  at WABC radio, did his countdown of the Top 100 hits of the year and my best friend, Judy (the  45s librarian) and I kept lists of what we listened to as we filled in our top song list to capture them all. We would talk on the phone to update our lists.  The music was the  history of our times as teenagers and it made the culture of our lives rich. It was wartime, again, and we heard our history in the songs around us.  It was the time of racial unrest and the conflict between keeping the peace and fighting for what we believed we believed.  Not so different from today…..not so different at all.

So now it’s 2016 and I can look back in the rearview mirror and remember the songs that formed my being in so many ways.  The music captured my soul and my sometimes broken heart and I like remembering the good times and wish that history did not repeat itself but rather made some gains for all of us. Peace out, brothers and sisters.  Love one another, always and forever.