Monday, May 5, 2008

My Heart Lies in NY City!

(Monday, April 28th 2008 from the plane leaving JFK)

As I sit confined in the Boeing 747, or whatever aircraft this may be, I look out over the tarmac and contemplate the journey ahead of me, as well as the one I just took. There are 45 planes ahead of us in line for take-off so I pick up my book while the boy next to me digs out his M&M's and enters the realm of the video age. After endless subway trips and being subject to the unwanted music blaring from the ears of my fellow passengers, I find it ironic that the book small enough to fit into my purse is Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Burning books, fireproof houses, TV's spanning the whole wall covering 1-2-3, even 4 walls if you are lucky! (If you haven't read it lately, do!)

What can I tell of my great NYCity adventure? Would anyone consider it anything grand? Who appreciates New York like I do? Not that there aren't a million people or more that think it is the most wonderful place in America, but how do I explain why I love it? Can I put into words how my heart longs to be in a place that is home to so many?

Then it comes. Just as the pilot prepares us for take-off. The reason my heart aches for this city: I have family there. One lone aunt left to keep a part of my father alive. As I think about that, a tear leaks out of the corner of my eye. The last person I know that ties me to my Greek heritage. The same person that tries so hard to keep me and her feelings at bay. I think of knowing her, understanding her life and the life of her family, and the anguish builds up in my chest. The tears start to flow as the plane gains speed. The rain on the wings of the plane and the 2nd window pane make long streaks now, just as my cheeks are becoming streaked with salt water. I try to gain composure as I exhale deeply, thankful that the 5-year old next to me has fallen asleep. I wipe at the tears, sniffle, shift in my seat and try to think of the next time. I've never made it to New York without visiting my Kokaliares family; only this time there is only one. Her brother has long since left this earth, and her sister just recently. I know her heart aches for them and I might just be an unwelcome reminder of that. In fact, she points out that my hands and feet are identical to my father's, as well as the way I scratch my forearms at some invisible rash no one else can sense. Isn't it just easier to shut out this reality? Isn't it easier to shut out the quality of life, the time to contemplate and think, and sit back and do nothing? It is easier, but does it make you happy?

Now we are airborne and the cold, blank, white clouds seem to shut down the feelings. Then comes the harsh voice and mechanical images flip down from overhead: USAirways.com, headphones, place your skymall purchase now and earn more rewards. Oh yes, catch them while they have nothing more to do, nothing to do but dream and shop for the things they don't have, don't need, and didn't know existed before being trapped in a moving shopping mall for 5 hours. It's just as Bradbury writes: if you cut off the quality of information and stop taking the time to think about things, you can stop feeling the pain and need to act. But isn't this very need to write down my thoughts an action?! (Yes, I actually took pen to paper instead of fingers to a keyboard!)

I fall for it anyway. I hand over my $5 so I can tune into 'the family'. I'll be back after this short 2 hour presentation by 20th Century Fox. Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway bring us "The Devil Wears Prada", keeping the vision of the city alive in my eyes. But I can only get myself to tune in on one ear, the ear closest to the boy who is now awake, zooming his 5 cars all around his tray table. Ding, music stops, clank, clank, and the credits are over...

So, don't ask me about the wonders of New York. Not about the things you find within the NYCity Guide: the Statue of Liberty; the Empire State Building; Central Park; Wall Street; Yankee Stadium; the World Trade Center; Greenwich Village; Grand Central Station; Rockefeller Center; Lincoln Center; Radio City Music Hall; Ellis Island; Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I have been to all those palces, but that is not why part of my heart lives in NY City. I have family there. I have friends there. I can think there. I can hear the loud words of the silent minority. Whether it is because I am on a vacation far from the realities of my regular life, or because of the brilliance of this fabulous city, I may not ever know. But, until next time...

3 comments:

Bridget said...

Sounds like you really miss NY. Cant say I hope you move there. But seems like you would be happy there. I tried to live in MO and loved it when we visited and even when we got there but soon I have very bad home sickness since all my family is here. So I know what its like to miss family. It can be very hard sometimes.

Davey said...

Dang Helena, you made me cry. That was beautiful and I miss my family too. Love you.

btg said...

It makes me teary to think of your success this trip with your Aunt. She has always brightened our days when she calls. Yea, Yea. I am happy she was delighted to see you and wishes he had more time with you. Maybe next time you can actually stay with her and spend a lot of time with her. She is a sweet lady. Maybe she realizes now that instead of just reminding her of her brother, you are a part of him. She loves you very much. Maybe its your love for her and not the city that you love!