Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Love (upstate) New York

I truly truly do. When I was a baby, child, kid & teenager we would always stop in the fingerlakes to relax on the halfway point between home & my Bubbie's house in NYC. Summers in NYC were always tough- dealing with family or, more often running away from family resulted in either fun times sleeping at Bubbie's neighbors house (who I would occasionally pretend was my real grandmother) or, abandoned at a park. I knew my mom's mom had a difficult life. She survived a harsh childhood, poor in rural Poland, managed to live through the War, and gave birth to my mom in a refugee camp in Russia the year after the war ended. She and Zaidy moved to America when my mom was 4, with nothing, and managed to create a life for themselves- owning a soda shop, and a successful corner store in Queens.

She and mom had a tense relationship, and I never understood why, I just knew Bubbie and I had one as well. When I was 16, both my grandmothers died. It's horrible to say, but I don't remember who died first. I remember mom picking me up at school, and I just knew Grandma had died after what seemed like a long and slow decline. I remember a flight to NYC - almost unheard of- and alone at that (my first time flying alone) and seeing my Bubbie more fragile then I thought possible, and less angry then I had ever seen her. There would be no more of Grandma's apple pie, and rice pudding and no more of Bubbie's krepplach or brisket.

I'm almost still ashamed to admit how much closer to my Grandma I was. Looking more objectivly backwards, it was most likely due to proximity- I lived a 10 minute walk from Grandma, and a 8-10 hour drive from Bubbie. Every time we drove to see Bubbie, we would stop in the Fingerlakes - the halfway point and a break for me, who would be dreading the familial tension that would follow.

After Bubbie died, We drove down to NYC and back with dad's truck to collect the final belongings. Till last week, that was the last time I had been in the fingerlakes- it was as beautiful as I remember.

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