Thursday, March 19, 2009
The castle - International High school
Our trip to the South Bronx to visit our son for his 25th birthday was perfect. The high school at which he teaches English is a castle, yes, a castle right in the middle of the South Bronx. The castle's design and stature is like something from 'Harry Potter'. The flags flying from the top named the three International High Schools within the castle. The police presence out front, perched on the stone steps before iron fences were both alarming and comforting. We had to wait outside until our son came to lead us in. During our half hour wait we sat by the bus stop out front, close to the busy street. This proved to be quite interesting. The cast of characters that passed by or sat on the bench waiting were all fascinating. Groups of teenagers, laughing and playful - happy while exchanging pokes and shoves and words of promises to catch up later. A man approached us trying to sell us 'boot leg' DVD's. Another gentlemen peeked at us from the side of the bus stop while mumbling to himself.
I watched as a middle aged woman walked toward the bus stop. We smiled at each other. I said "hi, how are you today?", as she walked passed me and leaned on the side of the clear enclosure for those waiting for a bus. She said "hi, how are you, you look pretty in pink". Skipp then said, "that was a movie", and a delightful conversation followed. Her name is 'Laverne', - she is a CNA in a state run nursing home. She went on to share that she went to the International High School years back. She listened with keen interest about our son and why we were in the South Bronx. Our exchange was lovely and concluded with a photo of the two of us.
Shortly thereafter, Skipp wandered down the walkway about 30 feet from me. I watched as a woman approached him, she was lovely with dark skin, deep brown eyes, short stylish hair and colorfully dressed. I watched as they interacted - I watched as Skipp attempted to move away and she quickly circled in front of him to stop him from leaving their conversation. Eventually he turned and walked away from her. He came back over to me shaking his head as if he himself could not believe what had just transpired. He was chuckling to himself as he approached me and said, "she asked me about chicken, if I Knew where to go for chicken and if I knew the chicken was good or not". She then said "we could go get some chicken together, you know, see if it's any good!!!"........Skipp was amazed, that under the guise of where to get some good chicken he was being solicited. We laughed heartily. In less than a half hour we came to know Laverne, were offered the opportunity to buy boot-let DVD's, were 'peeked at' by a man who found us interesting and Skipp was solicited. Amazing huh?
Dolan came to get us and we entered his castle. There were flags from many countries hanging from the ceiling in the long hallway - flags from all the countries the students are from. It really looked like the United Nations of students. We met some of his colleagues - the admiration and respect they have for Dolan was obvious. We also met some of his students, former and current - they too were so complimentary of who he is to them. Their excitement to meet us was intense - their enthusiasm, contagious. I was smiling so hard that my face hurt. :-) Dolan's strong positive presence was evident in every interaction we had.
We then met Amy. His girlfriend. She is adorable, small and delicate - a lovely young woman of quiet intelligent speech, gently spirited and soft in her approach. I felt immediately comfortable as did Skipp. We then found our way back to our car and headed back to Brooklyn to one of Dolan's favorite writing and eating spots in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. The place is called the 'Greenpoint Coffeehouse'. As we entered the music I heard was perfect - it was Johnny Cash's last CD of many old favorites. "In My Life" was playing - Dolan and I just stopped for a moment about the timing of it all. That song has such special meaning for so many reasons. The place was old and rustic, dark and wooden - the cook had Bob Marley dreads, our waiter, Jeff? adorable. we ordered a nice bottle of Pinot Giorigio and pinini sandwiches. Dolan opened his cards and gifts and we talked and laughed and ate and drank for a long time. I actually lost all concept of time - lost in the wonder of it all.
We ended our day back at Dolan's apartment where we sang happy birthday over a strawberry rhubarb pie with candles stuck in the center. Dolan is not a fan of cake - he does however LOVE strawberry rhubarb pie. We picked it up fresh that morning from 'Bishop's Orchard' in our town. Dolan was thrilled - and felt 100% celebrated. Our goal was met and then some. :-)
The drive home was uneventful. We did stop for a coffee and to pee. The bathroom smelled like an old barn still filled with horse and or cow crap. It was horrid. eeeeeeewwwwww.
Like I said, the day was 'perfect'. I am so gratified, still high from the experiences - a natural high that surpasses all others - it doesn't get any better than this.
Posted by Gail at 10:13 AM