Last weekend, I was in New York City.
It was a vacation, and a homecoming. This was the first time I had made the trip in order to visit where I lived and worked so many years ago. Most of the people I knew from that time period have moved on: like me they have gone back to where they came from.
Even my brother and cousin, who were my biggest anchors and best friends during that period, have gone back to their respective home locales.
It was a homecoming of sorts for me, and more so for my daughter. She was born on the lower east side and was a city baby for the first year of her life.
She got to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person. She had toured Times Square when her uncle traveled from Texas. When aunts and uncles wanted to visit from Europe, and grandfather from west Africa, it was so easy to convene in NYC.
By the time her first birthday came around, she was ready to get outside and learn how to play. I took her to the parks and playgrounds, but there was very little green even as spring emerged. I lamented the difference in my childhood in west Texas and hers in the pavement and corridors of man-made structures…
The intent was not to move back to my home, but I did want to give her more of what I had. We looked into moving out of the city; we talked about moving to Europe to be closer to that side of the family. Our work situation prevented us from feeling comfortable in choosing one or the other.
Our circumstances, however, changed.
Mental health issues became our impetus to make life changes. I decided to bring my daughter back to where I grew up, where I knew we would be safe. And if we were ever unsafe, we had family around the corner to help us through it. In NYC, there was no net, and the expense of living there made it impossible for us to rely on my income.
For 19 years, Texas has been her home. She never visited her birthplace, so with her 20th birthday coming up… that’s what she wanted to do.
We gave each other the gift of a vacation, of bonding, and an experience in personal history. Because if I do not tell her the story, who will?