Coffee in Manhattan
It is 8am and the streets of Manhattan are whirring on this rainy morning. I’m sitting on the edge of a sofa bed in my friend’s Upper West Side apartment, sipping strong coffee, half-dressed for today’s luncheon, which will be followed by dinner, followed by a book signing, followed by drinks with friends. Was it just four days ago that I was at the bar mitzvah brunch?
I knew that Saturday, May 30th would be magical. What I didn’t know is that it would transformational. During the week beforehand, all odds were against hit. Harrison was hit with strep throat on Wednesday, and Olivia and I spent Thursday night in the ER for an injured finger. Guests were arriving, place cards had to be made, and there were many details to take care of. Yet, the ailments renewed my perspective of our blessings in life. Harrison would get better. Olivia would heal. And we would celebrate my son’s new phase of life.
I expected to be weepy on Saturday, but that seemed to be released Friday night as Harrison led the congregation at kiddush. Instead, I was beaming on the day of the bar mitzvah. My brother-in-law approached me in the morning and said, “This is a big day for you.”
“No, not really. It’s a big day for Harrison.”
And it was. At first he sniffled his way through the service in the background on the bimah. But when it came time for him to chant, he did so beautifully. The magic happened in unexpected moments. Having my entire family stand on the bimah for pictures, surrounding my son in his kippah. Watching friends and family envelop Harrison at the Torah, looking on as he chanted from the scrolls. Seeing Harrison and Olivia embrace at the podium after she read her poem.
Yet, nothing stirred me more than to hear Harrison give his d’var torah. Using his pages of text only as notes, his eyes panned over the congregation, his friends and family, as he implored us to be more connected with our food sources, to eat together as families, and to help feed the hungry. He rose from childhood into a young adult leader at that moment, and we were wowwed. We had all witnessed Harrison becoming bar mitzvah.
There is so much more… the sanctuary brimming with love, the party pulsating with joy. We were a community, welcoming Harrison into the folds of adulthood. He was embraced.
Michael had his transformations, bringing several walks of life together into one room. Olivia had hers, gracing the dance floor with her free spirit, taking in the love of everyone. And I have mine. It cannot be a fluke that I had to go on book tour two days after the bar mitzvah. I feel I am being asked to do something that will enrich me forever: I am being asked to hold joy.
Now, as I sit in my old stomping grounds of Manhattan, the same neighborhood where I pushed Harrison along in his stroller a dozen years ago, daydreaming of becoming a writer, I am struck by the poignancy of life. It is a sweet cup of coffee here in Manhattan.