I wanted to keep it a secret but I’ll let the alley cat out of the bag, our trip was to the Big Apple. My boys had a great opportunity with an internship so off we went as a family trip. I wanted to be close by to reduce COVID chances but felt relieved that masks are worn on planes, trains, subways, and ride services.
Today now that I feel better after a good night sleep in a real bed in a hotel in Jersey City, I was thinking about my relationship with New York. I heard about it all my life since my family left Russia, Sicily, and Ireland and landed at Ellis Island and didn’t leave until my father got a job in Pittsburgh. So Mom and Dad had stories of Queens and Brooklyn but I never got to see their home since in the 70s and 80s the crime rate was too high. So I was looking forward to staying in Brooklyn and seeing one of the family homes.
I have great memories of Long Island where my grandparents and great grandmother lived. I’d spend most of the summer being spoiled by my doting grandparents and swimming every day in the Long Island sound. I had friends in the neighborhood that I still keep in touch with. My cousin would visit her grandmother and we would also hang out all day. I have wonderful memories of my Aunt making potato salad and sandwiches for our picnics on the beach as we watched the fireworks on the fourth of July. I know now that is where my love of the beach began. My grandfather insisted I learn to swim properly like he did on the swim team so he paid for me to have private lessons and I joined the team in high school. Whenever I swim I think of him and try to swim as much as possible. My grandmother would bring us to the beach every day. So the beach means love to me. And good memories.
My mother would bring me into the city at least once a year. My cousin and I would hide our cash in our shoes and shock the Macy’s shopkeepers as we gave them a crumpled, stock stinky 20 dollar bill. I also remember taking the Greyhound bus into the city and then walking around Penn station to the Long Island railroad. It was not fun – hot summer air and a heavy duffle bag that my Mom and I both carried.
One of the last times I was in NY was for a family reunion back on Long Island. My brother brought me to Times Square for the first time. I wasn’t allowed in the 80s but it was the 90s and a very different time. And then we did a family trip up here and took a day trip around the city to show a cousin from Mexico around. She was more cultured than I so she brought me to a NYC museum. The kids went to the Natural History museum and she and I went to MOMA.
After my mother died in 2018, I decided family was everything so I visited my brother who was living in Jersey City. The hotel had kitchens so strong smells of cooking were in the halls and our room. A group of girls outside the hotel yelled at me for mistakenly looking their way as they smoked pot. So, I was not impressed and didn’t think that would be the place to stay with my autistic son who has super smell powers.
So, we stayed at the air bnb. I slept a little better on the air mattress but that was from pure exhaustion. I did borrow a chair from another source – their lounge. So working and sitting got much better till I was caught. Luckily we had already decided to leave yesterday so I returned the chair and stood for my last meeting. I wondered if there were security cameras but either way I was busted with putting the chair in the elevator! No one was ever in the lounge so how was it missed?
Again the place could be a cohousing. Make that lounge into a common area with a kitchen and use it! I did see some neighbors talking on their deck areas in the common courtyard. I know cohousing is rare in New York and the ones that are up and running seem to be in the north and far from the big city.
So, we spent our last night across the Hudson in Jersey City. What a difference perspective makes. In 2018 I didn’t like it, but now I love it. This hotel does not have kitchens so it smells like a hotel. The streets are wide and have few cars. There are even big box stores. My boys and I walked over to the river and the view of the city is lovely. This is the New York I love – from across the river!