We waited for about half an hour, then boarded the free ferry to Staten Island, and of course I still had my violin with me. Here's the thing about being a musician....
You know you're a musician when:
1. You bring your instrument on vacation with you.
2. Your idea of "fun" is listening to the same song 50 times just so you can catch all of it. (I'm sure my family LOVES it when I do this...those lucky folks.)
3. You hear other people jam--and can hardly stand not being able to rock-out with them.
4. You meet strangers--and can almost guess what they play (just by their mannerisms).
5. You end up playing the table drums far more than you'd like to admit.
6. You've owned a QUEEN album--or tried to steal one from your brother.
7. You can make immediate friends with people, just after hearing they're musicians too.
8. You've made up random rhythms with your family's best silverware.
9. You think Johnny Cash is sexy (okay...maybe that's just me).
And 10. Your crazy schemes of being a full-time musician make NO SENSE to your non-musical friends and family.
Anyway, enough of THAT. So, as we rode the ferry and saw the Statue of Liberty (which is actually much smaller than I anticipated), I wanted to break out my violin and play either THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER, or AMERICA. But, realizing no one on the ferry could voluntarily escape my music--I decided that wouldn't be cool.
The ferry puttered on, and Mike and I met people from Israel, Australia, Germany, and then South Africa.
"New York?" I asked one of the South Africans.
"Yeah," Mike said, "what brings you here?"
The man smiled at the ocean. The wind tussled his hair as he turned to us. "This is my son," he said. "He's eighteen, and getting ready for college in South Africa. I told him that he needed to see New York now that he's a man."
We talked to both of them for quite a while, and I found myself so struck by the beauty of the conversation. For those two, the only thing that mattered then was taking in the world, experiencing New York, and appreciating their time together.
"You're going to play your violin?" the man asked, after I told him about my instrument.
"Not on the ferry--but maybe on Staten Island." I smiled mischievously.
A man's voice blared through the ferry's speaker system, "Go to your nearest exit. We've arrived at Staten Island."
"It was nice to meet both of you," Mike said as we walked toward the exit. I realized though, both of us looked back at the father and his son. They pointed at various sites from the ferry. Both of them laughed, and I could almost catch the hues of happiness emanating from both of them.
As Mike and I stepped onto Staten Island, I recalled a story from a while back. A man had lost contact with his son. They had gotten in a fight and both were too proud to give in. Anyway, the son died.... The father had told me how devastating it was, because looking back all his son had ever wanted was to be accepted, appreciated, and loved. But the father had realized all of this too late--he hadn't been really present for his son's childhood, adult years, or really his life. At that time, the man felt compelled to tell me the importance of always showing people how much we care.
As I thought about his words, my thoughts went back to the South African father. He's the epitome of a good person--kind, genuine, selfless--bringing his son across the world, just to show him something special. That love, well, it was breathtaking and I won't forget it.
After a few minutes, Mike bought both of us a coffee and we were about to sit down when I heard music drifting from somewhere close by. That's when my favorite moment in New York happened--right there on Staten Island--and I'm proud to say the South African father and son were part of it!
To be continued tomorrow....
P.S. So many of us just want to feel accepted and loved, by ourselves and others.
Being empowered by acceptance and love--that can yield true peace.