Autumn in New York, Part II

Later that day, the plot thickens…

Visits with family that you love very much and don’t get to see very often can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. My experience is more like an emotional bullet train. My family does not beat around the bush: they want me to become a school teacher. Both of my parents descend from families who value education and refinement above most other things.

I thoroughly enjoyed the long father-daughter chat this morning as we navigated underneath overcast skies along Sunrise Highway towards the Robert Moses Causeway. The ramp directly to Captree State Park was closed off, so my father slowed down the car and asked, “Is it closed?” in a perfectly calm, collected voice.

“Eabsolutely not,” the woman responded curtly in a perfectly spot-on New Yahk accent. There were two woman flaggers in bright orange and yellow, holding up stop/slow signs for the occasional vehicle crossing the bridges to what would normally be a crowded tourist destination in summer. The abrupt nature of her reply may have been more suited to the urgency required of someone in danger of missing a metro train by five seconds thus ruining their morning by having to wait another 4 minutes and 55 seconds to board the next one.

As we walked the pier past the full and half day fishing charter boats we talked about life in general, and new interests, hobbies, and books, as we normally do on visits such as these. We stopped for some Manhattan clam chowder at the restaurant on the docks and proceeded to Robert Moses Beach where we walked along the dunes to the lighthouse. My morning coffee finally caught up to me and after I took care of business we bought some postcards, and the older volunteer at the counter gave us some of the Forever stamps she kept in her purse. “Old people are prepared for everything,” she said, remembering she had them. My father decided to ‘return the favor’ by giving her two dollars instead of the one he owed for the post cards. She put the bill in the donation box and the quarters in the register.

I felt the usual sense of serenity as I walked along the sands towards the Atlantic Ocean, and the unusual drop of rain on my hair as I got closer to the water. It didn’t start to come down for another minute or so, but there’s something even more calming about the roar of the ocean and cool feel of the sands on my feet during a light rain. I let the waves crash up to my knees and I picked up a few stones that I thought looked pretty neat. We saw a guy on his bike with his dog and boogie board come out to the water. His dog was chained to the bike, and when the guy lied down on his board on the sand the dog scooched ever so slightly closer to its owner, bike in tow.

My sandy feet rested upon the nice, clean interior of our Honda Civic rental car. We drove slowly out of the park and back towards Farmingdale as the rain fell steadily. I watched in satisfaction as the strangely oriented windshield wipers gradually cleaned the spot of seagull poo off the windshield. We continued our conversation.

My father brought to my attention that we were passing by the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. I suggested we stop because I hadn’t been there since my grandmother’s funeral when I was in college many years ago. After a bit of a search through section Q we stood by the final resting place of my elderly grandmother, whose challenging life I never had a chance to appreciate as a young child, and my grandfather who I never had the pleasure of meeting. Both had lived, and given birth to my father’s two eldest siblings, not far from where I currently reside in Washington.

I wondered what such a move was like for them in their day. “Did they get married here or out west?”

“Here in New York,” my father responded. I commented that young couples probably weren’t together long in that day and age before getting married, but my father suggested it was probably similar to current times. I’m still not too sure about that.

I continued pondering what their experience must have been like in Bremerton. Did they have the same culture shock as the rest of our family when we go out west, or did they go with mostly other New Yorkers? How did their outlook on life change? Did it? Were they there long enough before coming back to NY?

After a pleasant conversation I trod with my sandy bare feet, wearing my dad’s oversized yellow t shirt (my make-shift towel), over the freshly wet, lush grass and tiny, painful acorns towards the car. I felt a much stronger connection to my relatives after having experienced much more of my own life, and having the same appreciation for the pacific northwest.

What real New York bagels look like. Yes, that is lox cream cheese on the left.

Since arriving in New York I had a slight craving for a real New York bagel, though I generally don’t eat bagels anymore. I just wanted to reconfirm that the west does not actually know how to make a proper bagel, and attempting to derive the same sensation from western bagels as from New York bagels is simply a waste of time, and most likely results in disappointment. (Not to mention guilt from the dissatisfaction of consuming more calories than units of happiness to offset said additional calories. See chart. Yes, that’s an asymptote. No, if you don’t know what an asymptote is I am not going to tell you. Check a math textbook. …Seriously.)

Without going into too much personal detail, it was a long, exhausting day, fueled by the excitement of a long-anticipated visit with my family and a medium cup of Tim Horton’s coffee after about four hours of restless sleep. As with my last few visits to NY, it is a far different experience visiting as an adult. I have a more discerning perspective of everything that I grew up with. I am a world traveler and adventurer who doesn’t forget about the people that made me what I am, and I will always return to give them a big hug and a kiss and share tales of excitement and woe when they are unable to accompany me on my travels.

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