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Jewish Journal

NYC, the 16th Floor, College & Jazz

by Ilana Angel

January 21, 2014 | 12:58 pm

Ms. Peanut Butter

I love New York City. We arrived on Saturday and are on the flight home now on  Tuesday. It was cold and I couldn’t get enough. I freak out in LA when I need to wear socks, but in NYC it is truly winter and can’t get cold enough for me.  My Canadian heart soared and while not at all cold when we arrived, it was freezing when we left. There was snow one day, but mostly it was sunny and great. To wear a winter coat, boots, scarf, hat, and gloves, makes me happy. The city was alive and vibrant and we had a blast. Whenever I go to New York I wonder why I don’t live there. Then I pay $20 for a sandwich and wonder how anyone lives there.

We stayed with my friend Julia on the Upper East Side. We have known each other for 16 years and for her to have met my son when he was 2 and now share this experience with us is special. I love her. Her gorgeous apartment is on 86th between Madison and 5th. She has 2 cats and both have some kind of feline Parkinson’s, which makes them shake, unsteady, and cuter than anything on YouTube. She also has a corgi named Peanut Butter who is obese, which makes her short legs look mutant. I can’t figure out how they support her. Between the animals and neighbors, stories of the 16th floor should be on Broadway.

There are 4 apartments on her floor and everyone goes in and out of each other’s places, including the dogs, and it is fascinating. I was sitting on the couch with my son when the dog walker came in, said hi, went to the kitchen, and borrowed some milk. He was lovely, knew exactly who we were even though we had not met, and correctly guessed Julia was out getting her nails done and was not there. They are an eclectic group and while Julia is not originally from NYC, she is a New Yorker now and one of the characters on the16th floor. They should have a TV show. Seinfeld’s got nothing on this group of entertaining people.

I went to New York City with my son so he could audition and interview for a college in England. He is brilliant and after a few nerves, he was ready to bloe them away. He auditioned at Lincoln Center and as I sat outside the room he was in, the room across the way had a jazz band rehearsing. I am not a huge jazz fan, but sitting there listening to them play had me mesmerized. Looking at this trip through jazz music is interesting. Jazz is happy and sad, inspiring and debilitating. As I listen I am not sure whether to laugh or cry and that all happens in one minute. It turns out my son going off to college is much like jazz music.

Some days I float on air with pride and when someone asks me about my child’s plans after high school I scat my way through the day with a trumpet blowing happy notes. Other days I am driven by the wails of a trombone and feel like crying. During the day when I am busy, it is loud and fast, but at night when he is sleeping and I think about him not living in my home, the music is slow and pained, somehow willing me to cry.  Jazz is complicated, as is motherhood. I feel as though she knows how much I love my child, how difficult it will be to watch him leave, but also plays at the parade I hold daily for the pride I have in this child.

It has been a great few days in New York and as I sit on the plane home writing this blog I am crying. Crying because I am happy, scared, nervous, and insanely confident. I have raised my son to leave me and while I am feeling scared for him and nervous for me, I am insanely confident that he is going to do amazing things with his life and I am going to be fine. Our lives are changing, beginning again in many ways, but at the end of the day he is my baby, knows his home is in my heart, and my dreams for him trump my fear. I went to NYC with a child and am returning with a young man who fills me with joy and teaches me how to keep the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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