It’s gorgeous weather here in Hartsdale, up in Westchester County in the Manhattan 'burbs: bright blue skies, full sun, sweater temperature. The house is trimmed with decorations for this afternoon's party for Lauren, who just graduated from Sarah Lawrence. Lauren is the daughter of Kent (David’s older brother) and Nancy. Carolyn jokes that she'll will get many uses from these decorations from Kent's family alone. She bought them a few years ago for their party for Emily, when she graduated from NYU. In a few years they hope to use them again for Jackson, who just completed his first year at Cooper Union, also in New York. I'm happy for (and a tad envious of) Kent, who loves in LA but loves New York, for having his three children attend college near one another in a city he loves to visit. A day into this trip I'm realizing that I need to find my own excuses for getting here more often.
For Charles and me, this party is lucky timing. My initial motivation for this trip was the Jewish Book Council's author network conference in Manhattan next week, to pitch my book to representatives from synagogues and organizations. Charles has a big construction job starting next week, so we appended a weekend with David and Carolyn on the beginning of the trip as a little vacation before he flies back on Monday. Being here for Lauren’s party is an unexpected perk.
David and Carolyn take us on a little drive, stopping at a riverside lookout in Hastings-on-Hudson where can see clear down to the far tip of Manhattan, a good 20 miles away. From here the World Trade Center, the architecturally inane new One57, the lush green rectangle of Central Park, are compressed like a toy village.
I love the Hudson River (technically a tidal estuary), a grand aquatic thoroughfare that could slip our little Santa Fe River in its hip pocket and not even feel it. I have loved it since the end stages of my angsty five-year love affair with New York City, when I would catch the Hudson Line from Grand Central Station when I needed a break from the city for an afternoon. Once I went to the end of the line at Poughkeepsie, getting off long enough for a walk in the open space and fresh air, maybe a bite to eat, before heading back down to the city. I suppose this yearning for sky and space is what led me to Santa Fe, though I couldn’t see it that way at the time.
On the way home, Carolyn picks up a beautiful chocolate-on-chocolate cake that Lauren had requested, with an edible Sarah Lawrence insignia. Guests -- the graduate and her parents, brother and girlfriend, grandma and step-grandpa -- are shuttled from the train station in two carloads, with the take-out Turkish food in the trunk. My aunt Lauris gives a moving toast to Lauren, who opens presents (including the Zuni bear kachina we brought from New Mexico) and revels in family pride. After lunch we all take a walk through Ferncliff Cemetery, just around the corner from David and Carolyn's house, a lovely and curiously befitting end to the afternoon honoring a young woman on the doorstep of adulthood, reflecting on her past and looking to our future, within the perimeter that surrounds us all.