Last Friday at this time I was sitting in the Kiev airport.  Today I’m sitting in the Chicago Midway airport.  Maybe it’s a Friday sort of thing.  The good thing about being in this airport is that I can understand (almost) all the announcements and conversations going on around me.  There is probably quite a bit to be said for being clueless about the activity all around you.

A lot went on this past week, and the best I could do was to jot down occasional notes.  In many ways that don’t make a lot of sense, I was certainly not getting much sleep while I was in Ukraine (perhaps 5 hours on a good night) and we were walking miles every day.  Most of this week, I slept at least as much (or little, depending on your perspective) and was busy with family and at a workshop all week, but still I didn’t find the time (or maybe the impulse) to be writing in my blog, although I was certainly thinking about a lot of things.  Maybe I was just processing.  Perhaps this is the way I worked though (or began the process) since I didn’t feel either jet-lagged or disoriented at all.

Last Saturday, after an intense day looking at photos, watching and talking about the video and what Asya, Ella and Julia were saying, and doing a brief review of some of the material I had collected, my parents and I went out to a late dinner (given my travel the day before and my inability to grasp what the time zones were doing that whole day, I am sure that the time of dinner that night was almost meaningless – it must have been meal time somewhere I had been).  We went to their favorite diner in Rockville Center, and my parents joked when I chose fish (snapper) for dinner – much the same way they did when I fixed a tuna sandwich for lunch.  The funnier thing was that on Sunday, when Susie and Emily came to visit, my mom fixed a delicious and very crusty tuna casserole. It’s been so long since she made it, though she had to ask me for advice on quantities and ingredients!

Sunday brought a second de-briefing with Susie while Emily went to work on her newly repaired computer.  The repair was a collaborative effort between Robert and my dad and resulted in a linux install.  Emily seemed really happy to be reunited with her email and Facebook friends.  I was glad because I think she would have been bored with some of the kitchen-based conversations about the trip.  We went through about ¾ of the photos, Asya’s video and some of the paperwork I brought home.  The tragedies of the past are re-lived daily now with input from different people lending insight into some different perspectives about the family, frustrations about the world that was so brutally destroyed and all the people completely lost to us with the destruction not only of their lives, but of the personal things generally remaining after people die.  I remembered Arielle visiting Mary’s mother or maybe grandmother for a holiday weekend while she was in college – there were diaries in the attic preserving several centuries of records of farming and family details.  What a contrast.

For 4 days this week, every day I walked from E 55 St to the west side, through Central Park.  On my first walk, on my way to meet Lee for dinner and see her fabulous new apt (it’s really gorgeous and in a perfect location) I glanced over at the water in the south end of the Park and was really surprised to suddenly feel as if I was walking through the park in Ivano-Frankivsk with Sasha and Ella, stopping by the lake, taking photos.  What a world of contrasts.  Yet, as Ella and I kept saying, the similarities were much more extensive than the differences.

The week in New York was filled with beautiful and startling things, as well as plenty of time to interact with colleagues at the workshop at JTS and review and learn as we prepare to implement a new curriculum.  I was particularly taken by the green beauty of New York – the many trees, flowers, beautiful old buildings, church spires, colors in shop windows, incredible fragrances wafting out of restaurants and bakeries.  The grocery stores on almost every corner with the brilliantly colorful displays of fruits, vegetable and flowers were particularly eye-catching, and the bagel, donut &

Central Park

Central Park

coffee  stands on the streets in the mornings giving way to hot dogs, knishes, pretzels, falafel, shwarma and other goodies by noon.  It seems that there are unlimited versions of ice cream, gelato, ices and frozen yogurt shops that have sprung up – I wish I was staying long enough to sample each one – there are so many varieties I don’t know how anyone makes any choices!

In 1966, I took my first plane flight – I went to Israel and France that summer.  When I returned home, I was very impatient with the contrasts that I understood between life in the US and Israel.  I didn’t grow up in an over-privileged environment, but also didn’t lack anything I needed.  The financing for the trip was a struggle for my parents and grandparents, but they felt it was an important trip – I was the first in the family to go to Israel.  What I became most conscious of though, was the differences in lifestyle.  I didn’t think that what I saw in Israel was due to poverty any more than what I thought I was seeing in the US was wealth.  Rather, I understood that in the US we had lives that were filled with luxuries and comforts which at the time were almost unknown in Israel and that our lives in contrast to theirs were easy.  I know that I had very little understanding as a teen of why those difference existed and I was intolerant when I returned home, of those contrasts.  This time, the contrasts again were striking but they were disturbing in many ways that are so unlike the earlier trip.

An odd thing, well really, 3 odd things happened, on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Tuesday morning, as I approached the

NYC

NYC

corner where the big FAO Schwartz and the Apple store are, on Central Park South, across from the Plaza, I noticed an awful lot of police cars parked everywhere. There were cops in the cars (two per car) and they were just parked.  It was a few minutes before 7 AM.  At exactly 7 AM, all of their lights were turned on, and about 3 minutes later, they started to pull away in an orderly fashion, from the curb, and to drive west.  49 police cars with flashing red, blue and white lights.  I counted them as they drove by.  Later that day, as I walked back to the east side, probably on 56th or 57th street, while I headed east from 5th avenue, 14 police cars passed me, in a line, sirens blaring, lights flashing.  This was around 9:45 PM.  The next morning, I saw a sight similar to what I had seen Tuesday at around 7 AM – this time, by Lincoln Center.  The first time I saw this line of police cars with sirens and lights was about two or three years ago – I was in the city for a week in the summer at a workshop and was walking with another woman when all of a sudden a line of cars with sirens and lights terrified us.  We stood still unsure of whether to run and where, and noticed that no one else was paying any attention.  There was a cop nearby and we asked him what it was all about – he said ever that since 9/11 there were randomly scheduled shows of force all over the city.  I guess people can get used to anything.

It’s hard to believe all that has happened in the last five weeks, since I left Santa Fe has transpired.  A week in NY, 3

Flowers in NY

Flowers in NY

weeks in Ukraine and a final week in NY –  I feel as if I have been gone for 5 months, not 5 weeks.

Advertisements