The rains subsided enough this afternoon to allow me to take a long overdue walk along the Hudson River. Suffering from a huge case of ‘cabin fever’, I hit the streets, strolling past a half-dozen fragrant delis, chattering children in the school yard and shop-keepers shouting a happy “Hello!” to all who walked by… yes, this is indeed a quintessential little piece of New York. I found my way down to the edge of the river, and though the skyline was still encased in a humid July haze, it was still sweet to enjoy a lazy walk through the park … tugs slowly motoring along and north & south bound commuter trains whizzing by every 10 minutes or so. I’ve long loved the sound of a train rattling along on the tracks, but until this afternoon, I hadn’t realized why: 10 years as a child in Philadelphia, living a shot-put away from Center City, I basically grew up on the subway system. My Father worked across the street from Independence Hall and we attended church every Sunday at the huge Episcopal cathedral a short 15 minute ride away. My family didn’t drive or own a car … the trains were our transportation. I still smile as I hear that familiar rumble. And today was no different.
Ignoring the delis, I opted instead for a well-crafted dish of organic frozen yogurt … a simple, but deliciously sweet treat on a hot afternoon. As I meandered the riverwalk, I met a delightful man who encouraged me to come back to the park after the haze lifts… Manhattan can be seen in the distance, he said, and at sunset the needle is lit in gold. It sounds like a wonderful sight… I do so hope the curtain will lift before Sunday, when my next stop – Connecticut – has me on the road once again. Heading back to the apartment, I chatted with other people along the way… people with their own stories, children and lives I’ve not lived, yet all eager to smile and share a few minutes of their time. We are all connected by this wonderful condition of humanness, and a smile is one of the few things that will remain when all else is gone.
Connections. It is said that everyone comes in our lives for a reason. Now back in the apartment, and quickly flipping open the laptop to check messages, I find myself sitting in stunned silence at what I read. Just a handful of days ago – at the pow-wow I attended – I met a wonderful woman who loves to work with genealogy. As I know so little about my family, and as she was so willing and skilled to help, we agreed to exchange information. Since that day she has messaged me many times with wonderful and amazing detail of family & people I didn’t even know of. Photos, birthdates, places, names … but it was what I saw at that moment that stunned me: A man was born in Yorkshire England in 1566 to later became known as “Pilgrim William Brewster” … a chaplain on the Mayflower, and “a leader of the Mayflower Compact” …the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. A man who was the several-generation ago great-grandfather of mine.
Connections. While the rains seemed to have cast a damp cloud on our plans for the week, the time then allowed and the connection made through a previous stop, gave me a gift beyond measure. I have a family … a family now with names and occupations and paths they walked. Places of burial and places of birth. Dates of life. My journey … their journey. The woman I met at the pow-wow who took me under her wing. My hosts who graciously dressed and took me to the pow-wow. Angela … whose beautiful brown eyes peered deep into my soul on that cold morning in January and told me “go … do what your heart tells you to”…. Yes, we are all connected.
“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
~ Herman Melville