I’m so glad to be home again! I had a great long weekend at my sister’s house on Long Island. It was my niece’s college graduation, and next weekend another niece graduates high school. I am so proud of our “girls”. They are all bright, intelligent and beautiful women who will make their mark on the world some day. The picture today is me and my niece, Melissa, who is also a writer and who was the party’s honoree. She graduated from Ithaca College.
Taking the Amtrak up to New York City and stepping back into the swirling rush of people at New York’s Penn Station I felt as if I’d never left. Ever the same on the Long Island Rail Road. I didn’t get out into Manhattan as I had originally planned. I wish I’d had time to see my former coworkers and hit a few places I love, but that’s life…another time.
Taking the railroad back into New York City to catch the return Amtrak train meant I was back amidst the New York City rush hour crowd. I looked around the 6 am train and knew I was on Long Island’s “South Shore” compared to the train line I used to take on the “north shore.” If you’ve ever read Nelson Demille’s book, “The Gold Coast”, that book is set on the North Shore of Long Island. The North Shore is old money, stock brokers and Manhattan business people. The South Shore has the gorgeous beaches and more working class neighborhoods. I grew up South Shore and moved to the North Shore when I married.
The 6 am train from my sister’s South Shore working class Valley Stream neighborhood were mostly Hispanic and African American workers. A few Orthodox Jews in prayer shawls and yamulkes getting on in Queens. Construction workers, welders, electricians. Union patches on their jackets and lunch pails in hand and lots of friendly swear words floating on the morning air. A few office workers and women in hospital scrubs with medical ID’s hanging from lanyards around their necks. Everyone clutching deli or Dunkin Donuts coffee cups.
My old train from Cold Spring Harbor….North Shore commuters…that same 6am train on another track. White men and a few women in their 40’s and 50’s with an occasional African American among the crowd. Clutching expensive brief cases, three-piece business suits, silk ties. Starbucks extra tall coffees in hand and reading the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times. Sleeping people and people on Blackberries and Treos checking email.
I love them all.
They are the face of New York. They are the faces of my childhood. They are my history and roots.
But my heart lifted when the train came back near Richmond, Virginia, and I saw woods, streams, and a pond with little turtles passing by the train window. Cattle fields and elderly ladies on the train dressed in their traveling finery. “Y’alls” and “Have a good day now, ya here” and lots of “Jesus be praised.”
If Long Island and New York City are my roots, these people are now my branches and leaves and flowers.
I am home. Truly home.
Gardening posts resume this week!