In August, the Parssinen family converged on the Hudson River like a multitude of little streams and waterways, for the wedding of my younger brother, John. He is the last of my siblings to get married.
I hadn’t been to New York state in four years and I felt like Goldilocks re-discovering a comfortable, cultural bed: yes, Van Wyck highway, I still hate you and by God, it’s good to see you! 3,000 miles west to east: a continental divide of humidity, life pace, language, and attitude (best sensed as I sat in a local hair salon, noshing on a bagel and cream cheese, getting my frizz blown out by a lady with 3-inch pink nails that clicked together while she worked, telling me about life in Yonkers, laughing her mighty smoker’s laugh).
My brother lived in a river town, just outside of New York City – I mean, did you know there were actual towns outside of New York City? I lived in Queens for three years, went to Montauk a few times, but it was always Manhattan that had the gravitational pull for me, the center of life as I knew it in my 20’s. As it turns out, there are river towns! Towns that border the great and mighty Hudson River, each quaint little sleepy hollows, with our hotel right across the street from Washington Irving’s house. The history, the grand expanses of lush lawns, the storied family estates, how different from the drought-sticken west with the small patches of zero-scaped turf.
The wedding was fabulous, fun, exhausting, sweaty, magical. Managing two active boys in the midst of potlucks and rehearsal dinners and, oh yes, helping them to bear rings and fling petals, was a high-wire act of timing and dare-devilry: I bounded from swimming pools with floaties to MCing an open-mic (where I may or may not have sung “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme song) to the gates of heaven called the ballroom parquet dance floor.
John married Laura. And then they both did the Worm across that dance floor. YES THEY DID.
The next day, we crossed the Hudson River and traveled up to the Niagara River for a reunion of my husband’s family. Great-grandparents, great aunts and uncles, second cousins, first cousins, we were all rolling on the river – or was it down the Eerie canal? The 6 yr-old turned 7 and there was much battling with light sabers and much talk of the Buffalo Sabres and all I know is that it was pretty great on the Great Lakes.
The grand finale of our trip back east came as the 3 year old unleashed a stream of vomit in the Buffalo airport, but isn’t that how you close a circus? The fairy dust had settled. The Big Top was coming down. It was time to get the clowns back in the clown car.
And figure out how to get the hell off this trapeze.