My second solo trip to NYC
When I was little, my parents put me on a plane and sent me to my grandparent’s home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I was coming from, Puerto Rico, where we lived, after brief sojourns in Bermuda and Haiti. The journey was made, so that I could see the New York Worlds Fair. I didn't know what it was, but it sounded like it was a good idea. A week before I left my dad took me to see Bambi. That may have been the first movie I became obsessed with. I kept thinking about the hunters, Thumper, and the incredible fire sequence. How the fire burned from tree to tree and all the animals going ape-shit Amazing!
So I get, off the plane at the newly named. John F. Kennedy International Airport. At the top of the Jetway, I was met by my grandparents, Bob and Josie, or Grandpa and Grandma. (Bob’s real name was Rocco, he changed it because he thought it was too ethnic) They pick up my stuff from the baggage carousel, (extremely cool. The first time I ever saw something like that) then we hop into the Big Cadoo. My grandfather got behind the wheel, I got in next, followed by my grandmother. I stood up in the center of the bench seat. (no seatbelts, And if they had a collision, I would have shot through the windscreen, but hey, it was the 1960’s) They kept grinning and touching me (not in a bad way, keep your dirty minds out of my story) and asking a million questions that I tried to answer in English but it came out in Spanglish-y. They didn't care. It was early winter, I was happy, and I was there with them.
As we were driving I couldn't help but notice that all the trees were missing their leaves. My imagination saw the fire jumping across Eastern Parkway (BIG jumps) burning all the leaves off the trees. After a while, of alternately standing up on the car seat between my grandparents and laying across the dashboard and watching Brooklyn sprawl by, a thought popped into my little pea brain. It was a question, ”¿Por qué the casa didn't quemó también?” or some such, ”why didn't the houses burn?”
”What?” said my Grandma.
”Why would they burn?” asked my Grandpa.
”after del Fuego?”
”What fire?” asked my Grandpa.
”El fuego que burned todos lis árboles.” I started seriously, ”The Trees!”
”They didn't burn, its winter.” said my grandpa.
”Winter?” I pondered that word, winter?
Then all of a sudden, my grandmother grabbed me and pulled me into her lap.
’You are a silly boy!” she tickled me, ”Winter is when it snows! When you ride a sled! When you make a snowman!”
I wasn't sure what she meant, but it sounded interesting.
The visit was fantastic. My mother’s father, Grandpa-Mike, a retired NYC Detective, was working security at the World’s Fair. I don't know what he did there, he must have been important, we drove around the fair in a little buggy, Bob and Josie sat in the back and I sat in the front next to Grandpa Mike. We skipped the lines at every exhibit and I ate more Belgium waffles than was previously thought to be humanly possible.
I probably stayed in Bensonhurst about a month, maybe longer. I had a number of firsts during that visit, the first time I saw Snow, the first time I kicked through the fallen leaves, my first scarf, gloves, wool hat and winter coat, and the very first Halloween! Trick or treating was incredible. I went as a cowboy and I shot my gun at every door we visited. I ate so much candy I got sick. But thankfully, there was more candy. I must have made for a very convincing cowboy because I took in quite a haul.
Pretty much, I think of this visit every time I see winter trees for the first time. I'm conscious that we’re way past the fall, every time I see this. When I truly look at the branches against the winter sky, I'm reminded of this trip.