This week I am saying welcome to students in my summer courses. And I mean it. I am not saying hello, or nice to see ya', or let's get started. I am saying welcome, on purpose. Welcome to my life. Welcome to my history, to my story, to the new doors and windows I can open (if I succeed) for you. Welcome to class.
I am also building a readership on this site! I am very excited about that, and I would like to use this post to say welcome to you as well. I can not tell you the thrill it gives me when you post comments or simply add your face to that follower list, or subscribe anonymously. I am pleased that you have come. Look around, stay awhile. You are welcome here.
The summer of 1997 I was enrolled in graduate courses at Fordham for the Fall and had successfully made the move into my new digs in the Bronx. Feeling comfortable and secure, I had time on my hands and not much to do. Being the single mother of a three year old in a strange and somewhat unsafe city put limitations on my explorations. I decided to take a trip. I decided to go for a two week stay in Florida with my dad.
At that time taking the train was cheaper, so I booked two tickets on an amtrak and headed south. It was quite an adventure and a post for another time.
When my baby and I returned to NYC and got off the train in pen station, we were exhausted. I was emotionally, financially, and physically drained. The thought of a subway trip to yet another train, to a 4 block walk back to a very hot apartment was daunting to say the least. So I made a call.
My mother's best friend lives in Greenwich village. Her apartment is a place full of childhood memories. The hallway that smelled like fresh baked bagels, the counting the stairs on the way up. The door to her apartment with the peephole and the many locks. The apartment itself, groovy and open. The shower that was a closet, the eat in kitchen, the books and plants and delicious colors. JK's place. I needed it. So I called.
Though we were no longer close, she was excited to hear from me and more than insistent that I should hop in a cab (a cab!) and come on over to spend the night with her. That way I could get a fresh start on my trek back to the Bronx in the morning.
I was so tired by the time we got to her apartment that the comfort and memories the hallway evoked made me start to cry. My daughter was tired and cranky and we had so many bags. We were two lonesome people at the end of what had turned out to be a lonesome journey. We needed welcoming. And we got it.
The warmth of the apartment welcomed us. JK put her arms around us and was honestly delighted to see us. There was food, there was a drink (alcoholic) for me. There were books and games for my daughter to busy herself with while JK and I sunk deep into pillows and caught up.
She listened to me. She listened to my hopes and dreams and fears. She listened to the story about the hard time I had just had with my father. She gave me advice and asked all the right questions. She asked the questions that helped me answer my own. She was interested, invested, and comforting. I have forgotten most of that harrowing trip to Florida, but I will never forget my evening with JK in New York.
When it was time for sleeping, JK and I pulled out the sleeper couch in her living room. Though a newer incarnation, it took me right back to being a little girl and staying there on a pullout couch with my mother. The sheets welcomed me, the blanket welcomed me, the window open to the summer night welcomed me.
JK pressed some rose quartz in my hand and told me to make a wish. She told me that I would get my hearts desire. And I made a wish that night, and it came true.
I fell asleep to the sounds of New York City in the summer. Though filtered through a back courtyard they were soft. The sheer curtains on the window blew gently in and my body was at peace. I felt ready to take on the world.
It is amazing the strength that one honest welcome can give us. And with that story, I welcome all of you.