it seems like yesterday. it was on a thursday night. i was at our favorite ice skating rink....not skating. just watching. never much fun for me to just watch ice skaters.....i was watching biff and claire, our niece.... i wanted to be on the ice!
i do love to see the different characters at a rink.....after all, biff was one of those characters! he was 'the guy that worked at brooks brothers". there were others...plenty of others...lots and lots of characters. we only knew them by their names....the ones we made up. strangers of a club....strangers who liked to skate....characters. we were too.
our rink, where biff and i met, is on long island's gold coast. it's the north shore of long island. manhasset, at one time, was a quiet bedroom community. families connected by schools, churches, neighborhoods, commuters and clubs.( http://www.tenderbar.com/)
christopher morley park was built in the mid 60's, i think. for me, it was futuristic with an ice rink, some swimming pools, a golf course and trails.....it was new...it was bigger than polliwog!
polliwog pond was the ice skate place....for our friends and neighbors. it was up the street for some, down the hill for all, through the woods for others, and around the block for most.
free.....running...climbing...skating...fishing...bike riding.....baseball playing...jumping.....sledding.....all kids. at the same time, quiet and peaceful. fun. plain, old fashioned fun. there were always kids to be found. i don't remember parents ever being at polliwog. there was always something to do. we were outside. we walked there.....we knew everyone. it's where we grew up. where else would we be?
manhasset. that's was home. it was a town with a local 5&10cent store........ regional grocery stores that employed local high school kids to stock their shelves..... gather grocery carts........check out shoppers who knew them by name, as well as the names of the rest of the family....... locally owned restaurants with local kids busing tables and waiting tables........small town soda shops......hometown sports stores with local team logos on hand....family owned clothing stores......families lived in the town for generations.....families knew families. that was our manhasset.
manhasset has evolved. long island has evolved. the world has evolved. good, better, best....bad, worse, worst....good,bad....bad, good....who knows. it all depends on your perspective. some see the world as the haves and have nots. some see the world as then and now. i just see my world....my way. and that's how i like it! i don't mean that i'm narrow minded. i just feel best when i go through life my way. i'll explain....
just as manhasset has evolved..... with glamorous boutiques where we once bought bubble gum and gadgets, coloring books and turtles, ice cream and keds......some of us branched out from polliwog to christopher morley, a county park....with identification and proof of residence was needed. we stepped a bit outside of our neighborhood. we had to be driven....too far too walk..a public rink had a schedule.....to much traffic on the roads.... far too many strangers....not as much local.
we bought turtles where now there's a tiffany & co., we bought coloring books where there's a burberry, we bought gadgets where there's a gucci, we bought keds where there's a brooks brothers., we bought ice cream where there's a william & sonoma.
i shop there now, if i have to. it's hard to get parking space. all of the cars are foreign. the people come from all over. i don't see anyone from town. biff calls it generica. it's just evolved....into generica.
it was 15 years ago tonight, that i stood watching biff ice skate, where we met 18 years ago.....he skated with my niece....i waited for them....i waited for our baby....that was due anytime. i was tired and i wanted to be skating. i left them.....skating. oreos were needed....for the baby, of course! i stopped at the big grocery store for oreos. i plodded through laura ashley.....dreaming about my baby to be.
christopher morley was a small skating community in a big world. there was biff, the guy i thought worked at brooks brothers. there was the skate dancing couple who seemed so in love. there was an attendant who was lonely. there was the manager who talked about his winter house...somewhere else. there were lots of "rink rats", the little regulars who teased the instructors. there was the skating family....we dreamed we'd have our own "rink rats" someday.
that someday was soon. our baby was letting us know.... she was born the next night.
while baking cupcakes for grace's birthday today, i heard the reporter on the t.v. say, "live, in manhasset." there was a big blue and gold "manhasset" sign in the backround.....and the pizza parlor, our favorite.....where the guys knows us by name...
he talked with a "local", noting the benefits of living in this north shore location.... just a train ride from manhattan. he waxed poetic of the "americana shopping center".....he compared the fine stores to those of rodeo drive and madison avenue in new york. that was not the manhasset that mattered to me. that's not where i grew up.
life changes, people change, things change and places change. that's o.k. i just can't give in. i can give in to change. you know what "they" say? "they" say, "the only thing constant is change."
it's true. i can't change that. i can only change the way i deal with it. and that's the start of doing it my way.
one of the greatest gifts that i know is having a sense of community. anywhere. another saying,"it's not what ya know, it's who ya know."....and that's very true for me.....oh, no...not in the whole social climbing world. it's not where we lived, it's the way we lived....that's the way we wanted to bring up our children. living in a big world with a small town feel. i just feel like the theme song cheers...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD8ljNobUys
that was my manhasset...that small town. that's the way i like to live. that's the way biff likes to live. that's the way we try to show our kids, by example. it seems so silly to even think of teaching that. i take that for granted. it's the way i grew up...and the way i learned to live. even in new york city, i got to know tony, our pizza man. we knew maria, our corner bodega. we knew gus at our diner. we made it home. we made it our small town.
some may take that manhasset living for granted. some may think those days are long gone. even though the stores have changed and some of the people have changed......for many families who have remained, manhasset is still in tact.....it's still home. they make it that way.
even in our evolved world. today, so many families are living scattered around the globe......corporate moves.....divorce....more 2 income families out of necessity, not as many moms home during the day, not as many families at home.......activities....activities....schedules....time.
and my way, to deal with the urban sprawl of our world, is to look at people. i like to talk to people who help me, even in a big store. i like to stay local. i love to shop. i like to know where i'm shopping. i like to be greeted and return the friendly hello. i like to call people by name. i like to say thank you. even in the grossest chain giant, i like to say hello to their "greeters". now we have "greeters."
the first time i took our kids to a walmart, they waved hello and talked to "stanley", the greeter....he was an older gentleman at the door. our little kids called that walmart "the stanley store." they thought that it was his store. he added a personal touch. he recognized us whenever we walked through the door. and we acknowledged him. i like that small town feeling.
no agenda. nothing to prove. i like the way i grew up. i'm not pining for yesteryear, i'm loving today. i'm making "my way." and that's how we want our kids growing up. we want them to be aware of what a big world we live in....our hope for them is that they grow up feeling like they have a big part to play in this world...i hope we lead by example.
hey, who ever would have guessed, i have a blog. i get to write words on an itty bitty keyboard by pushing buttons, the words show up on the screen immediately and *POOF* with one click, my words spring out into the world. now, that's cool. even that helps me to feel connected.
whoever would have thunk it possible? especially, in the days of keds sneakers and lemonade stands and ice skating at polliwog pond?