Wednesday, March 23, 2011

PYHO: Coming Home...

As I begin to write this, the song "Coming Home" by Diddy who was once P. Diddy and is now Diddy- Dirty Money runs through my head.  It's all about returning home to the place where you came from - going back to your origins, your roots.  At least that's how I'm reading it.   I'm feeling a little nostalgic as the song's chorus goes through my head.  Maybe because soon I will be returning home.

In about 24 hours, we are heading back to New York City, a place that was once home.  I'm excited to be going. I'm excited to see old friends and their families.  I'm excited for the boys to see the city again, and to soak in the city's energy.  They're old enough now to retain the memories.  Hopefully the busyness and the constant noise of the city won't affect them too much.  I'm looking forward to revisiting and getting reacquainted with the place that was home to me for over thirty years.

It's been almost two years - 21 months to be exact - since I've been back there.   Things most likely have changed.  We already know that The Husband's favorite Cuban-Chinese restaurant, La Caridad's located on the Upper West Side is no longer there.  We had several dates there -- it was a favorite haunt of ours.  And I've heard that the Barnes & Nobles where I used to frequent a lot is no longer on 66th and Broadway.  It's closed.  That bookstore was a second home to me.   Hopefully the one on 84th store is still in existence.

Like I'm really not trying to be sentimental, and yet here I am, close to tears.  I think of a line from the movie, Grosse Pointe Blank, where John Cusack says " can't go home again, but at least you can shop there."  It's one of the funniest lines in the movie, especially because he pulls up in front of his old house and it's been turned into a little mini-mart along the lines of a 7-Eleven.  That line resonates with me because it expresses the point so well that things change, and home won't be exactly what it was when you were living there.  I feel that way about New York City.  Home is no longer what it once was.   And that's usual and pretty typical of any place where we've spent our childhood and early adult years.  And yet I'm still affected...

I love that my two older boys get to see NYC see the subways that they talk about often and love .  They'll actually get to ride them, now and remember the experience.   Hopefully we'll make it up to the Bronx and the neighborhood where I grew up and where the Grandma still lives and I can show them the house I grew up in.  We can show them the new Yankee Stadium and they can ride that 4 train past it just like they see on t.v. when we watch the Yankees play baseball at their home stadium.

I'm looking forward to walking along Riverside Dr. near Grant's tomb and Riverside Church  - the area where I used to work and the setting of one of my novels.   Maybe we'll hit the Chelsea area of Manhattan where I used to live as a single woman, where The Husband courted me for a year.  We'll see those restaurants and diners along 23rd Street where we used to have lunches and dinners - is  the Empire Diner still there on 23rd and 10th Avenue?

As I write this, an anxious pit settles in my stomach.  What else has changed?  What places will we go to that will not be there anymore?  Because, truthfully when those places close - the La Caridads, the Barnes & Nobles' - those symbols of our old life, the slices of evidence of what we used to do and where we used to be back then, disappears as well.  All we're left with is the memories-- and the memories tend to get fuzzy over time.   I mean, I rely on those symbols to rekindle the old memories.  I need to see Grant's Tomb because it triggers my memories of the days when I worked near there.   Otherwise, I begin to forget what it was like back then, and I don't want to forget.  I don't want to forget the place where I came from, grew up in, and lived a good part of my adult life in.

So...I'll try to go with no expectations, just an open mind to the way the Bronx and Manhattan I used to live, work and breathe in - is now.   Enjoy the city as it is, with the Husband and the boys.  Can't wait to show the boys the big public library on 5th Avenue between 40th & 42nd streets with the two big stone lions sitting in front.  With the few days we have there, I'll soak in the city, enjoy it and take a package of Kleenex with me to carry along the way because, you know, The Husband might just get teary-eyed.  


  1. Just want to say, thank you for reading this. Please forgive me. I didn't realize this post would be so long. I guess I had a lot on my heart. As always, your comments are appreciated.

  2. It's such a weird feeling, going home again. Things always change, people change, and yet it's such a big part of who we are. I'm not a Diddy fan, so I don't know that song. But, have you hear Miranda Lambert's House that Built Me? Sort of along the same lines, I think.

  3. Oh wow, this is such a great post. I know exactly how you feel. You will have such a great time being back there! I am envious you got to grow up there. I am so enchanted with NYC. Have fun!

  4. Enjoy your time in NYC. Lucky you!

  5. Dear Melanie:

    I love this story. Your writing is so
    beautiful. You depict New York the way I
    would. You express your emotions well.

    Living in New York is an unique experience.
    I hear that from other former new yorkers.
    New York causes us to miss it.

    But do not forget the many experiences
    you have had in New York. Because you are
    New York City, especially the Bronx. Where
    ever you travel, you will always fascinate
    others because you are a New Yorker and a
    Bronxite! And always share your best
    experiences with the Bates Boys(smile)

    And remember I love you. You continue to
    be a remarkable daughter!

    Love Mom,

  6. This was such a fantastic PYHO topic!

    There's nothing like that feeling of coming home- excitement, nostalgia, dread. Remembering where you came from while staying true to who you've become!

    And for the record: I love that you started this with a Diddy song! :)

  7. Oh my. I knew I had connected to you being displaced from NYC, but this post was so beautiful. Don't ever apologize, it's totally fine to let it all out, especially in your space. You made me SO homesick!

    What just freaked me out is that you lived on 23rd street. I wonder when. My ex-boyfriend lived there and I practically lived w/him (we worked on 14th, then Hudson St and my commute from 77th/1st Ave was he!!) in 1997-or so. I absolutely loved East of Eighth. I think it's still there. And the Spanish restaurant across from the hotel (that's gone). I can't remember the name of it. I think that diner is still there because the last time we were in NY, or maybe the time before that, we drove through the city and went by. So many memories. I know exactly what you're saying about needing to revisit so you can force yourself to remember. I often feel that way and can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to truly feel the city, too. I envy my brother, my niece (also 4) gets to see so much we grew up with in Bklyn.

    I love what your mom said in her comment, You are New York City. I so feel the same way. Thanks for the reminder and sorry for the huge comment! :)

  8. I love this post! I used to live in NYC too, and this totally reminded me of the city. I can almost smell it. Like you, I don't get back often.

    I hope your trip is wonderful.


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