Long Island, Manhattan & Miami
13.05.2011 - 19.06.2011
This will be my last post.
I haven't written in a long time, because I finally got to the US. I have spent nearly a month with Saba & Safta. They have been more than hospitable, given me everything I could possibly want, need and a lot more. Our daily schedule consisted of three meals a day, never failing to sit at the exact same time every day. Delicious food was served each night, and every morning a big breakfast of homemade chala.
The beginning of my visit was full of driving around with Saba & Safta, showing me the area, where they live now, and where they used to live, right on the bay in port Washington. I also spent about a week with a friend that lives in Manhattan, who showed me more of the city. We went to pubs, parties and had great time together.
After he left back to Israel for the summer, I was back with Saba & Safta. It took me a long time to decide what I want to do while I was here, because I had several Ideas before coming, but in the end nothing came to be. I wanted to go north to Toronto Canada and visit one of my best friends from my platoon, but I couldn't get in touch with him. He has been ill since last October, went through severl check-ups, but last I spoke to him, the doctors still didn't know what was wrong with him. I regret that I didn't try harder to get in touch with him, and trying harder to see him. I hope he's alright and wish him to be well.
Finally, after departing with myself for a long time, I decided to go on "vacation" in Miami, Florida. I went to Manhattan, bought myself a new pair of roller blades to take with me to Miami. Testing them for the first time in the streets and avenues of New York brought back fond memories of my childhood, when I used to ride my roller blades everywhere.
In Miami, I did what I trained myself to do in order to survive. I quickly found a place to stay. I went to Miami on May 30, right on Memorial day, so needless to say, accommodation was expensive. Even after the holiday weekend was over, by the standards I got used to in South America, paying 18 USD is very expensive. Unfortunately, I had no choice, because those are the prices here. On my first day there, I again did what I was used to doing, once I came to a new place, I explored, only this time I was moving a lot faster than usual. I rode for hours, getting to know every street and avenue in south beach. When I came back, I got to know the people that are staying with me in the hostel, and ended up hanging around with them until I went back to NY.
I must say, that hanging around three or four Brits, a Canadian guy, a french guy and a Serbian girl, I learned something, the British don't drink alot at once, they just start very early in the day.
So my days in Miami were spent mostly on the beach, on my roller blades, and drinking all day. It was a lot of fun, because, like always, the amount of fun you have in any given time, is depending on the people you spend your time with. We all went to Key West, renting two cars for all of us. I drove all the way there, in a Chrysler Sebring, and the other car was a Ford Mustang. The drive there was beautiful, full of bridges (we crossed one of the longest ones in the world, a 7 mile long bridge. We also saw a giant statue of a lobster, and all the way listened to great rock music on the radio. I know that Aba and Shaul would have loved that station, having very little commercials and a lot of good, old rock n' roll.
After a bit too long stay in Miami, I came back to NY for last few days I have left, before going back home.
I am going back home on sunday the 19th, so I have just over a week before going back.
The coming monday was just a few days before Safta's annual exhibition, so she asked me if I wanted to come and help set up the gallery. Growing up with so many of her works around me, I wanted to see where it all went down. We were picked up by her friend Sally, and drove all the way into Manhattan, through all the morning traffic, and all the way to Chelsea, where the exhibition takes place (I don't remeber the traffic jams. I was asleep). There we spent hours hanging works, and planing where everything goes, because it was also a new showroom for Safta's group, and according to her, a bit smaller too. We had a great time all morning and afternoon, despite the fact that she forgot to bring herself the sandwitches that she so laborously and lovingly made that morning.
I met most of the members in Safta's art group, all very nice, little old ladies (Safta's words!), except for Sally, who isn't old.
The next day Saba promised and delivered, and we all went to IHOP for breakfast. The International House of Pancake. I had the sweetest pancakes I've ever had, a bit too sweet for my taste, but we still had a ver nice time. After hearing so much about it, I had asked Safta to show me her works that she gave to their Synagogue. We drove to Port Washington, and let me tell you, their community is lucky to have them as members of the shull, because without Safta's works, that place would look completely different, more boring and less pleasant to the eye. Her beutiful artworks decorate almost every wall in there, as well as the Tora itself.
That weekend, on Thursday was Safta's exhibition. The night before, I was invited by Julia to go with her and her friend Jenna to the Natural History Museum in Central Park. I was very excited to finally spend some time with her, because we talked about it so much, but ended up canceling each time for various reasons, so I went to the city to meet them both. We were all at the meeting point earlier than planned, so before going to the museum, we had lunch with Sophie on Columbus ave. While sitting there, I noticed a big black Cadillac waiting just outside. I wondered about it for exactly two seconds and then brought my attention back to the conversation going on around me, and then a few minutes later I saw a guy that looks exactly like Steven Spielberg walk out the same place we sitting at. Connecting the dots, I came to the conclusion that with the big SUV with darkened windows, a man that looks just like him walking very fast toward that car, and a very big fellow waiting for them inside. It was definitely Steven Spielberg.
Anyway, coming back to reality, we finished up, and went to the museum. We spent hours there, scouring (and mostly getting lost) the whole of the bottom two floors. Later, our feet sore, from walking so much inside we needed to start making our way to Safta's gallery. So after an exhausting search for the exit, which took more than 15 minutes, we managed to escape. Meeting Sophie outside, we all went in the subway to Chelsea. At the exhibition, I was introduced to more than half the people there. Talking to artists and family members. I met Jeffery, Safta's oldest friend. A very nice man, I spent a very long time talking to him, and enjoyed every minute of it, until he left very early. Later in the evening finally, after a lifetime of growing up and hearing about him, seeing his portraits made by Safta in our house, I met David Leisner and Ralph, his partner. I enjoyed so much talking to them both, we ended speaking until the exhibition was over, and we had to close up shop.
Two days later, on Saturday, a day before leaving, we drove to Croton to help Jo move to her new house. We loaded up the car with dozens of Safta's works that Jo's taking with her and went to her new house. Let me tell you, because this is my first time in the USA, I have never been to Saba & Safta's old house, except seeing it on the outside, I was very impressed with the size of the place. A beautiful neighborhood, a great spot near the river, with a pool just two minutes away. The house isn't done yet, but I could see the potential it had and I loved what Jo wanted it to look like eventually. We had a great time together, before it was finally time to say goodbye and depart.
I am writing all this, despite the fact that the main characters mentioned here, were present during the making of this film, as a final recount of what we did together.
I want to thank from the bottom of my heart to the two main characters in this story, without whom not a day of this trip would have been possible. I want to thank you for your never-ending generosity, tolerance and love. I am grateful beyond words. My appreciation and adoration to you is so great. I love you very much, and I dedicate this whole blog, begining to end, to you.
I love you Saba Henry & Safta Shula.