12 January 2007

Day One: Mi Familia

What a fun first day of a visit!

My mom and dad landed a little early at JFK (?!?!) and were on their way to their hotel way downtown. Then, so was I!

When I walked into the hotel I saw someone who I thought looked remarkably familiar. After a second glance I realized it was my cousin (husband of my dad's brother's daughter, Anne) Michael! I went up to him and said, "Sorry, can I interrupt?" and he looked and looked at me again and big hug and, "What are you doing here?!" I told him I was waiting for my parents to celebrate my dad's birthday.

We made a plan to surprise my parents at dinner later-SO much fun.

So Peggy, Bob and I went to the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station (one of my dad's places) and had dinner (I had a pretty amazing lobster roll. $27 worth. Next time I'd split it with someone) and Michael texted me to say he was on his way. I actually had butterflies I was so excited for the surprise. Michael and my folks get along famously and he's really fun/cool and married to a woman who I've admired for, well, my entire life. It was just such a nice surprise and a great way to start off the weekend.

I'm off now, back to the financial district, to pick up my folks. A walk down Battery Park waterfront and over to Chinatown for Dim Sum. Then we'll take a walk about, probably a nap and then Rob will come meet us at the hotel. THEN back to Brooklyn for dinner! Hopefully we'll see childhood friend of mine, Peter, and his woman tonight, too.

Having a great time.

In honor of my father's love and expertise in the English language, to our small family reunion and to the unorganized, organic nature of New York (for which there IS no synonym) I'll leave you with this:

Thesaurus by Billy Collins

It could be the name of a prehistoric beast
that roamed the Paleozoic earth, rising up
on its hind legs to show off its large vocabulary,
or some lover in a myth who is metamorphosed into a book.

It means treasury, but it is just a place
where words congregate with their relatives,
a big park where hundreds of family reunions
are always being held,
house, home, abode, dwelling, lodgings, and digs,
all sharing the same picnic basket and thermos;
hairy, hirsute, woolly, furry, fleecy, and shaggy
all running a sack race or throwing horseshoes,
inert, static, motionless, fixed and immobile
standing and kneeling in rows for a group photograph.

Here father is next to sire and brother close
to sibling, separated only by fine shades of meaning.
And every group has its odd cousin, the one
who traveled the farthest to be here:
astereognosis, polydipsia, or some eleven
syllable, unpronounceable substitute for the word tool.
Even their own relatives have to squint at their name tags.

I can see my own copy up on a high shelf.
I rarely open it, because I know there is no
such thing as a synonym and because I get nervous
around people who always assemble with their own kind,
forming clubs and nailing signs to closed front doors
while others huddle alone in the dark streets.

I would rather see words out on their own, away
from their families and the warehouse of Roget,
wandering the world where they sometimes fall
in love with a completely different word.
Surely, you have seen pairs of them standing forever
next to each other on the same line inside a poem,
a small chapel where weddings like these,
between perfect strangers, can take place.


At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Peggy W said...

Billy Collins is such a favorite of mine.
This is a perfect pick for our family weekend.

At 3:06 AM, Anonymous skip landt said...

Thanks so much for this little word feast of Billy Collins -- and for the peek into your joyful family meet-up.

I dropped in courtesy of a Google alert. Thanks to Google, I have a 24/7 search in progress, always on the lookout for some trace of Billy Collins.

Again, thanks -- to you, Google, and Billy. Hope you don't mind
my visit.

Skip Landt

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Susie said...

Skip, you're welcome any time. As is Billy :)


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