COMMUNITY

3 Oct

I spent most of the day with my family.  My son and I went to my parent’s home in the neighborhood I was raised in and  spent the day with my sister, her husband, my niece and my parents.  Later on, we met with my aunts and uncles and my cousins and their children in the neighborhood where my parents lived when they emigrated to this country over 40 years ago.  The meeting was a celebration of the naming of a street in Brooklyn after the citizens of a small town in Puglia where my family came from before they emigrated to New York. 

 Many of the Italian-Americans who attended the event resided in this community in Brooklyn and built it into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the country.  It was truly a celebration of family and community. 

It was a beautiful day and a nice reminder of my grandfather who made a decision to emigrate his family from his small town in Italy to New York City.  I think about how amazing my grandparents were to make this decision to leave their small town for a huge foreign city where they never really learned the language or assimilated.  I admire immigrants and I think they are very brave people.  They take a risk for their family – to give them a better life.  I know that risk paid off in my family – I know I was raised with a good life.  And as I reminisced on how wonderful my life was because of my grandparents’ and parents’ sacrifices – I turned my thoughts to my son and my responsibility to give him a good life – after all that is the American Dream.

My son was attending this event and in very simple terms I tried to explain to him what the event was celebrating. However, in explaining it, I thought of something that has haunted me since I decided to return to live in NYC.  I’m anxious that my son will not learn this meaning of community.  Even though I was raised in a borough of NYC, I always felt like my neighborhood was a small town.  So many people were connected, knew each other and supported each other. It was a place where children played together on the stoop of our homes and grew up respecting each other and even attended each other’s weddings.

We live in the heart of New York City, in an apartment building – it’s difficult to know our community when we live in a building with over 250 other families!  I love our life here in New York City because it is so rich – and today reminded me that even though we live in a big city – there are many ways I can give my son that same sense of community – I just need to learn to be a part of it myself – and that starts with our apartment building.

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