A few weeks ago, I experienced the opportunity of attending a writer’s conference in New York City. Yes, the fabulous one and only New York. There’s no place like it, as Frank Sinatra sang with gusto in his song, New York, New York, the city that never sleeps.
Six years earlier, I attended an off-Broadway play, my last visit until July 2022.
With the omnipresent pandemic, no opportunity prompted me to return until this live conference beckoned.
Come to New York! I registered and accepted the invitation.
What a privilege to return to the big apple! We stayed in midtown, and over the next couple of days, I drenched myself in knowledge, with expert speakers in the craft of creative writing.
Creative writing reminds me of words splashing across a canvas, illuminating and refining until the product reaches a level of excellence.
Every time you think you’ve learned a great deal, you reprimand yourself, exclaiming the process never ends. Creative writing reminds me of words splashing across a canvas, illuminating and refining until the product reaches a level of excellence. For those who share my passion, you know what I mean. Exhilaration and excruciation often meld together. What an amazing ride! More about this creative journey another time. Now I turn my attention back to NYC.
New York attracts people throughout the world, including immigrants looking for opportunity. My extroverted self became immersed in talking to many. At some point, I spoke with one server from China, whose name meant Sky. I told him how lovely.
My few days at the coffee/breakfast shop, I spoke to Mr. Gomes. I thought he had Spanish origins, based on his name. What did I do? I tried my “Buenos Dias” on him, and with a pleasant demeanor, he corrected me about his background. Apologies for my presumptuousness came forth, and he smiled, asking me to give him a good evaluation. I did so with extra frosting on top.
I met many wonderful attendees who shared pitches about their potential novels. A few of them regaled me with their unique stories. I didn’t take part in the pitching process, but applauded others for their creativity. Again, they came from afar. Yes, what better city to stage this feat than New York?
My paternal grandfather and maternal great-grandmother, immigrants from Ireland and the Syria/Lebanon, left their homeland in the early part of the twentieth century for the new world. Did they come to the United States via Ellis Island? Within closer proximity to land, did they become excited by the looming presence of our Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French and a symbol of America’s offerings? I don’t know, but if so, they joined others, hoping for a better life within the home of the brave and land of the free.
I allow my mind to wander back to the early 1900s, imagining New York City. Throngs of people, speaking in foreign languages, baggage in tow as they disembarked from an arduous adventure to reach the shores of this young nation.
Groups of immigrants, many impoverished, bustled around the busy streets, soon working long hours and maintaining their culture, yet assimilating into one with the rest of their brethren.
Francesco Rosario Capra was one of those young immigrants who, at age five, arrived with his family from Italy. He recalled his father’s exclamation when Lady Liberty came into view. “Ciccio, look! Look at that! That’s the greatest light since the star of Bethlehem! That’s the light of freedom! Remember that.”
Raised in Los Angeles, the young man sold newspapers for ten years until he graduated from high school. Ciccio enrolled in Cal Tech, working while attending college, soon gaining a degree in chemical engineering. This rags-to-riches man became one of the most celebrated film directors of our time.
Frank Capra gave us ageless movies, including the unforgettable “It’s A Wonderful Life.” He exemplified the American Dream at its best.
America, New York, forever enshrined as an inspiration, and then what happened? A cancer formed, undetectable for many, and as this weakness spread, September 11, 2001 changed our lives forever.
Our shining city on a hill endured the gravest of wounds in its young history.
A slow, encroaching division received a brief interruption by unity, but the poignant episode of coming together receded over the next few years.
Such coalescing never returned, and we’ve become more divided than ever.
Those who carry shame and disdain for the United States ignore the slow steady metastasis invading our country.
They dismiss this cancer, seeing it as a benign tumor that will right itself once they right America.
With fury and righteous indignation, they knock down statues, change names of schools, and embellish or limit narratives of Jefferson’s and Madison’s homes.
These individuals view history through the lens of the present while banishing the context of the past.
Many shouting down our unique country earned great wealth and success because of America’s beneficence.
Are these events, including the invisible terrorism of the pandemic harbingers of what’s coming?
Perhaps. After reading Jonathan Cahn’s books and watching the movies based on his stories, I’d venture to say yes. No matter what your belief system is, Rabbi Cahn’s brilliance in deciphering ancient wisdom will give the most ardent atheist pause.
Our haughty citizens seem oblivious to the comforts and gifts of living in a free country. Denial is a powerful defense mechanism, with two sides of the same coin: constructive and destructive.
Thinking about the fun in New York, which included walking through the vibrant crowds at night and attending the superb play based on the book The Kite Runner, I count my blessings, extending gratitude to the divine.
Yes, I love New York, but America even more.
May our Statue of the great Lady remain intact and prevail through this wounded time in our country. As we prepare ourselves for the 21st anniversary of 911, never forget! Nothing is permanent, including our majestic republic.