Monday, August 12, 2013

The Cruise

I had just received my email confirmation for the 2nd Annual Comadres and Comadres Writers Conference in Brooklyn, New York on Oct 5. This will be my first writer conference and I'm psyched! I don't know what to expect, but I am sure it will be an awesome experience. I will love being among fellow Latino writers from all over the United States and abroad and of course,  making new friends and literary contacts.

So, to get myself in a New York frame of mind, I emailed my good friends, Liz and Ron, and asked when I could visit them in Throg's Neck, NY and their very gracious reply was "ASAP!" We met in Brussels, Belgium where we were stationed in 1994 and hadn't seen other in 11 years. The old adage that with some friends, you pick up where you left off is true for my friends and I. We didn't miss a beat, I'm so very happy to be here with them--they are fantastic hosts and great friends.

As well-traveled as I am, I've only been to New York one time when my kids and I visited three years ago right before Christmas. We had a ball doing all the touristy things, so when my friends asked me if I was interested in a tour of NYC during this visit, I bowed out. I wanted to get acquainted with the Bronx, specifically Throg's Neck where my friends live and with Long Island which I've wanted to visit for decades.

I am a nature lover with an affinity for any body of water and my friends have a boat, so can we say perfect? The weather couldn't have been better and the company was awesome. We left the marina and headed into the Long Island Sound and I pinched myself--I thought of how fortunate and blessed I was to be alive at that very moment. The seagulls called out to us and the breeze was luscious as we sailed under beautiful old bridges and passed throngs of people enjoying the day in parks at the water's edge.

When the water got choppy, my friend told me we were passing through Hell's Kitchen, the area where the East River, the Harlem River and the Hudson River with the Bronx on the right bank. As my friend veered the boat to the left, the Manhattan skyline came into hazy view. I now understood what was so awesome about the skyline and why artists paint it over and over.

We sailed past the Chrysler Building, the United Nations Building and the new Freedom Building where the Twin Towers stood and fell on September 11, 1992. I didn't know anyone who perished but my friends did. I doubt you could live in the city and not have known people who were forever changed by that time. I said a silent prayer as we passed.

Then, off in the distance, the Statue of Liberty came into view and I could feel my excitement build. I was really going to see the Statue of Liberty up close and personal in all her French glory after a lifetime of seeing her in print and on the television. I was not disappointed. The statue is magnificent and as beautiful as I thought it would be.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing the Lady and her city from the water--it's a totally different story from the river. Now, I had tons of questions. I wanted to know about the history of New York City and the cast of characters who built and founded this great city. My girlfriend said she had three books by Lloyd Ultan written in collaboration with the Bronx Historical Society, I can't wait to get stuck in.

I am in love with the Long Island Sound and all the wonderful communities I've seen. I have added this area to my short list of places to really retire. I say really retire because I'm fully retired at the moment. I have an historic house in the downtown area of my city and a river property on the Potomac River. My goal is to combine the two one day--an old house on the water. I have a new goal and I love the hunt. Search and research are my two middle names. More tomorrow...

Peace and love,

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