Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Fruits of Blogging, Part 2

There is arguably no time more beautiful in New York City than right now.  At the cusp of summer the air is still fresh, with still another two or three weeks before it hardens into a solid wall of brass-smelling heat that assaults you (the pedestrian and subway rider) the whole day long.  The little patches of green you encounter, especially in the outer boroughs -- the grass at the curb and the modest little gardens that front the low brick two-families that are a staple of Bronx architecture -- seem so much lovelier than they would in the suburbs or the country, because they give solace and respite to souls conditioned to asphalt and concrete.  This time of year is more than usually evocative for me of other times passed in the city in which I lived most of my life, especially times passed in the largely-untrodden and -unsung regions of Brooklyn and the Bronx.

We went back to New York this weekend to go to a wedding.  The marriage was between two Portuguese-Americans, and the welcoming, relaxed warmth and ease of the bride and groom's families and wedding guests, as well as the fantastic music and food, gave both me and my non-Latin husband a sense of nostalgia for our old home town above and beyond that inspired by the beauty of the season.  I found myself thinking of Walt Whitman's great poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry:

I too lived -- Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine;           
I too walk'd the streets of Manhattan Island . . .

Walking those streets, one feels as if one has a purpose, as if one is working as part of a unified organism oriented toward a goal larger than oneself -- a feeling I do not have living in semi-suburban semi-isolation in the small city where I live now, a city where no one walks the streets except at the end of the day, and then either in jogging suits with arms pumping, or with dogs in tow.  There is nowhere really to walk to, after all, and no sense that you are walking along with others.  On the rare occasions when I pass someone else in my solitary perambulations, the other pedestrian, more often than not, will turn and look away.

But there are reasons we are here aside from the obvious one of my husband's work, I am sure of it, though I'm not entirely sure yet what they are.  Life has unfolded here in a way altogether different from the way it did for all those many years in New York, and, if it's lonelier, it's also been blessed by some incredible friendships with some fellow lady-bloggers and commenters. I attempted to write about the wonderful recent visit from New Zealand of Otepoti, who blogs at Reading for Believers, before my post was demolished when Blogger crashed earlier this month.  Then, just a couple of weeks ago, I had a delightful real-life visit from Mr. and Mrs. Darwin and their children as they drove through my patch of northern Appalachia on the way to see family in New York.  And finally, while in town for the wedding last weekend, I met Mrs. C of Adoptio, which was, for me, one of those rare experiences when you can almost palpably feel the presence of the Holy Spirit fluttering around you. 

Mrs. C is a lovely, graceful, accomplished woman, and also the rare sort of person who has a truly mature faith.  Because of her deep understanding of our faith - an understanding born, in part, of suffering - and because of her great love for Jesus Christ and His Church, she also has a heart full of compassion.  Believe me when I tell you that - as you may already know - these are rare gifts indeed, even (or perhaps especially) in orthodox Catholic circles.  I feel as if her friendship itself is a very generous gift.  And she is the one who introduced my husband and me to little Jude, who is in a Chinese orphanage awaiting adoption (another selfless gift on her part, and in which process we are currently waiting for fingerprint clearance from Homeland Security).  I have asked Mrs. C to be his godmother.

She and her husband flew to Texas yesterday, where they are awaiting the birth of their daughter.  Please pray with me that all will go well for them.  She is going to be an incredible mother.


Melanie B said...

I've only been to New York a handful of times but I think I understand a bit of the nostalgia you feel. I fell in love with it (or maybe it's properly a crush?) and even though I don't think I could live there-- I don't think I'm really cut out to be a city girl-- still, there is a part of me that sort of wishes I could. What you say about how the patches of green seem lovelier and how they give solace and respite to the soul, that feeling of a larger purpose and community which, as you rightfully say, seems lacking in the suburbs.

After two and a half years here in our town I still often feel like an outsider. I'm getting to the point where I know more people to say hi to; but don't have much of a feeling of really belonging. Like you say, I am sure there are reasons why we are here. But it is such a slow unfolding....

I love what you say about blogging. Hopefully some day the stars will be in the right places and you and I will actually be able to meet in person. That would be lovely.

Meanwhile, prayers for Mrs C. and for baby Jude.

Pentimento said...

Yes, a slow unfolding . . . well said.

Thank you for the prayers. I'm sure we will meet!

ex-new yorker said...

I am so glad your most recent return to New York was such a lovely one. We are still praying for you & Jude with every set of homeschooling prayers and I will try to remember Mrs. C and company as well.

For me this time of year in NY is probably going to be most evocative of when I met my husband there, which is what I keep thinking as if we're for some reason commemorating rather than the wedding just about 2 years later. I visited your blog tonight because I'd been thinking about what "Catholic" stuff we might do on our trip back. (I do love your blog, but you post infrequently enough that when I'm off Google Reader for a while it's hard to remember to check it.) I thought you had mentioned the Sisters of Life on here in the past and even though they are up in the Bronx (?) which was not my world at all, I was expecting my husband and I would be heading in that direction to Manhattan, etc. on our actual anniversary day when we will most likely have generous babysitting for everyone but the littlest one, whom I want to keep with us. I wonder if the Sisters let people visit -- I will have to do some research.

I have been picturing us revisiting all the places from our very early memories together/pre-"together." Not sure that is a good idea. I am not sure if it is more or less a good idea if the place are even more unrecognizable from then than we are now (like the place in front of which we actually met apparently is)... Maybe we would be better off creating different memories? Neither of us was a practicing Catholic when we met so something different seems appropriate.

(Our older sons were all excited talking about how there are pigeons in NY. There are basically none in our neighborhood although I think we see them in the town post office parking lot on occasion. I told them I could not really emphasize enough just how everyday a bird the pigeon is there. Not that I didn't like them in spite of all the rats with wings anti-pigeon sentiment. I remember that you do as well.)

Pentimento said...

Yes, like Bert of Sesame Street, I do love pigeons.

Contact me privately and I can put you in touch with various Sisters of Life at their various locations. Have a great trip!

ex-new yorker said...

Thanks! And I had no idea that comment was so long :) I was thinking about Bert too.

Pentimento said...

I really do miss pigeons; they are beautiful.

The Sisters of Life do have two convent in the Bronx (they moved into my old parish just as we were moving out), but also two in Manhattan and one (motherhouse) in Yonkers. It would certainly be worth visiting my old neighborhood for other reasons too, not that I'm partial.

Tertium Quid said...

I love all your writings about New York. I hope we meet sometime with spouses and kids in some Italian restaurant in the Bronx.

Pentimento said...

I'd like nothing better, TQ. And I'm glad to see you here.

Rodak said...

Beautiful writing, Pentimento. I've been neglecting the world of blogs recently; not just yours, but mine and everybody else's. I should try to snap myself out of it. I'm missing a lot.

Pentimento said...

Thanks, Rodak. I haven't been on top of blogs lately either. I stopped reading blogs for Lent, and the practice sort of continued. I feel like I'm neglecting something.