Saturday, July 14, 2007

Eyes Wide Open in NYC

Sitting in an apartment on 105th Street along Central Park West. The boys just woke up, while Shakun & Ms. Leah sleep peacefully upstairs. We're nearing the end of our month-long traverse across Europe & the East Coast of the States. Time, as always, slips past. We only have a few more days in New York City -- the first time since the boys were small that we've spent any real time here, near the origins of my family history in the US.

We've had a lovely time here in the City, meeting up w/ Scott & Malika, picnicing w/ Carl, Pam & their son, Sam, on the lawn of Columbia University, having a backyard barbeque at Lee & Janet's home near Montclair, NJ, having dinner w/ our Rose cousins on the Upper West Side, spending the day in the Natural History Museum, strolling around Central Park, taking the ferry out to Ellis Island, gateway to the States for millions, and visiting the Tenement Museum and Katz' delicatessen down in the lower East Side, where parts of my family first lived in the States.

Maybe there was a reason that Uncle Roger gave me a copy of his mother, my grandmother, Rose Marie Fischer Rose's one hundred year old birth certificate when we first stayed at his rural home, near the Connecticut border, upon our arrival in the States some three weeks ago. For I hear an echo or Rose Fischer Rose's father in the 1880s descending from his passenger ship, far from his native home in Russia, standing mutely first along the queues at Ellis Island, then dragging his suitcase along Orchard St. looking for an inexpensive tenement in which to live...

There is a bit of New York in so many Americans who can trace their ancestry to the millions of immigrants who came here in the late 19th C. seeking hope, happiness and a better life. Then, through endurance, hard work, study and stability, each woman & man lift themselves up on this new continent. Finding in merely two generations previously unimaginable wealth and security in the towns, cities and suburbs of the United States.

While happiness, not made of wealth -- rather a regenerative state of mind & soul -- can be found in any family, country or continent, if we are wise enough to value it...

Outside of our individual family stories, there is so much to explore in this City of wonder. The variety of people is remarkable. Just walking down Broadway and 108th St. we meet a Nepali who is working at an Indian's newspaper stand. Kiran Desain's "The Inheritance of Loss" novel made visible on our stroll. 'How do you like the US?', we ask. "It's all work," he says with a smile. Then, driving on 125th St to the Triborough Bridge, the City shifts its hue to the Black American culture where hardly a white face appears. A day later we have dinner at an intimate Japanese restaurant in the East 60s among the suave, elegant and well-heeled. Such is the impressive diversity of this busy, cosmopolitan, globalized world.

We hear the hurt people express from the tragic events of 9/11 -- but even more we perceive the ceaseless energy that powers this City to an almost constant transformation, peopled by everyone from everywhere on this planet layered on a constant creativity in enterprise, design, food, art, drama and architecture.

Yet, we are floating, passers-by in this bustling, booming urban landscape. Travelers from a distant land, guests in our own country. Eyes wide open to the changes that absorb the restless American identity.

We are merely observers of the day soon to return to our own distant garden outside Kathmandu, far from this fascinating, competitive, striving, kalidescopic world swirling, like the larger currents of man's destiny, around this always absorbing island of Manhattan.

No comments: