Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grand Central & Home

The background of this blog shows the inside of one of my favorites places - Grand Central Terminal in NYC.  It's an architectural masterpiece in the heart of Manhattan.  One of those places that when I take a minute to look around, I am always awed at its' majesty.  In my heart and soul, I will always be a New Yorker (perhaps one in exile, but a New Yorker, just the same), and this place says New York to me.
Now, in the prime of it's existence, it is polished - but no longer shiny; it is large - but not cavernous; it's ceilings are high- but their cove is seemingly touchable.  It's majestic and welcoming.

Grand Central has been through it's trials and tribulations through the years... There was a 10 year gestation before the building I know as "Grand Central" took it's first breath. 

Over the years, Grand Central has been through many changes... but it remains one of NYC's landmarks... Something that - when I look at it's picture - says "New York City" to me.  It yells "home". It beckons me "home".

But that home is one that only exists in my head now.  There is no house to go back to in Staten Island, NY.  I moved away long ago... when I was trying to get a handle on the mess that was my life.

OH was where I landed.  There couldn't have been a place more like Staten Island, NY (without ethnicity, but that's for another post).  It had large yards with small, medium and huge houses.  There were malls, lots of cars & traffic jams.  There was a reasonable library.  There couldn't have been a place more different from Manhattan (the island I love!).  "Ethnicity" was looked down upon... here we were all "Americans", no hyphens allowed.  In the streets no different languages were spoken.  No public transportation, no majestic buildings of days gone by... the buildings had been knocked down!  No on-going live professional theatre.  The tapestry of difference which drew me from Staten Island to Manhattan for work and pleasure was non-existent here.  But I was here & I was determined to clean up the mess I had made of my life & build a good life for my boys and me here in this "Staten Island-esque" place.

So for 20+ years, I picked up the pieces of my life - yes, it has taken that long,  because all those little shards of life were scattered everywhere.   But I got most of them up in the first 7 or 8 years & all the while I was cleaning up my life, I was trying to build a life and home for us.  It wasn't easy.  I ached for my childhood home.  While the surroundings looked like Staten Island, I longed for the refuge of Manhattan.  I longed for the Staten Island Ferry  to take me across the water so I could buy a soft pretzel from a food cart, go to Madison Square Garden to see the Knicks play,
to go the NY Public Library (down the street from Grand Central), buy a $2.00 umbrella, and marvel in meeting foreigners who so quickly own the term "New Yorker" while still speaking so fondly of their home.  Hyphenated Americans are celebrated in NYC.

There is no 'Manhattan' in Central Ohio.  And since I missed it so much, I focused on doing what was necessary so I could one day afford to visit... because I was here now and I was determined...

Life (and taxes)  taught me that I needed to own my own home... so I began that adventure & built a house... in the Staten Island look-alike city of Delaware Ohio.  Farms dot and border this 'city'.  There is no public transportation.  The downtown is a few blocks long.  Everyone seems to know everyone -  especially the Black people here... they all seemingly grew up together.  I took my boys and I from being potted plants that kept changing homes & not able to grow roots , to being planted firmly in our new house.  We were going to grow roots in the earth here - no more pots necessary! 

And we have grown roots over the years... New friends, cars to get back and forth between here and their friend's homes, graduations, marriage, and a wonderful church family all have fertilized our roots.  I own a house and my boys and I have a home.  When I sit in my living room or cook in my kitchen,  I look around and think "Not bad for a Lady Bug".   My boys know my heart and home is always open to them & anyone they choose to share their life with.  Few days pass that I don't feel appreciation from them for the struggle and sacrifice.  I look at them and beam with pride.... not that their life was easy - but they have made the best of life & that speaks to the men they have become. (Insert "big grin & me patting myself on my back & taking a bow" here!)

I still miss Manhattan and the architecture of places like Grand Central and the energy of that place.  But here - here in Delaware, Ohio is where I've made my own home & I'm happy here.  It's not majestic, but I hope it's always welcoming.

I've got a handle on my life now.  I learned from past mistakes & some slivers of my past life, to go full steam ahead cautiously and gratefully.

Not bad for a Lady Bug...