I high-fived the whole world today and then took a walk through time.
The New York Marathon charged through the five boroughs today and once again I joined my sister to watch more than 50,000 runners race down Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge on their way to the finish line in Central Park.
I can’t believe I almost didn’t go this year. I seriously thought about staying home and looking through the Sunday Times while athletes from every corner of the earth were running just a few blocks from my house.
Luckily my sister called last night and inspired me to get off my butt and away from the Sunday papers.
I slapped palms with so many runners today my hand went numb—and I didn’t care.
It was worth the momentary sting to connect with such a diverse group of people.
We marathon spectators are really ambassadors for a day, representing our city and our country to throngs of speeding visitors.
“Thank you,” one woman said to me as our hands connected.
“Thank you,” I replied.
This year’s event is especially poignant, since Hurricane Sandy scrubbed last year’s event and the country was rocked by the Boston Marathon bombings in April.
We started getting cold and my sister suggested we swing by our old home, which was less than two blocks away. I haven’t been down that street in so long and I wondered what the new owners had done with the house, which we sold two years ago this month.
I was also hoping to see some of my former neighbors, including the old Chinese lady who lived next door to us for so many years.
I always refer to her as “my buddy” because that’s what she is—my buddy, my friend, a sweet, lovely person who means the world to me even though neither one of us can understand what the other is saying.
She was always after me to get the garbage out on the proper days and insisted on carrying the empty trashcans into my backyard even though I was standing right next to her.
I’ve been worried about her because she’d had open-heart surgery a few years back and I was hoping she was all right.
There didn’t appear to be anyone at our house today.
Most of the people on our block now are Chinese, including the owners of our house. And, like a lot of other people on the block, the new owners have replaced the small steps leading to our front door with a massive brick staircase.
There was also new front and side doors and what appeared to be a huge air conditioning unit on the side of the building.
I thought I would be devastated to see anyone else living in the place where I grew up. And I figured I’d be outraged if someone dared to make any kind of changes to my ancestral home.
But standing out on the sidwalk with my sister, I realized that it didn’t bother me to see the place occupied by new people and I wasn’t at all fazed by the alterations.
I carry the memories of my time there in my heart wherever I go; they’re not bound to any piece of property.
I was hoping we’d somehow magically run into my buddy next door and my sister came up with the brilliant idea of ringing her doorbell.
We did that very thing, her husband answered the door, and my sister flagged down a woman walking by and asked her to act as a translator.
Then my buddy came out. It was so great to see her after more than two years. She and her husband are in my parents’ general age bracket, so seeing them makes me think of my mom and dad.
I gave her a big hug and a kiss and told her I missed her, language barrier be damned. I know she understood me.
They very kindly invited us inside but the conversation was understandably brief and we left a short time later.
I’m thankful that we got to see my buddy again. And I can finally accept that the house on Senator Street no longer belongs to us.
Like marathon runners, we see many memorable things on our journey through life, but we must keep on going until we finish the race.