Stuffed with Thanksgiving dinner, my fellow postulants; Juan, a college student visiting the Oblates; and I left Friday morning for New York to stay with the Redemptorists in the South Bronx.
A good part of the trip would require visiting the tourist spots. I have always avoided those whenever I visited N.Y. by myself. But I had to make sure that nobody became lost in the city.
We dropped off our baggage, went to Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, ate pizza at My Pie Pizzeria Romana and headed to the World Trade Center. Brenden, Joel and Juan headed up to One World Observatory. Leland, Jeremy, Colin and I went down to the 9/11 Museum.
I had visited the memorial years ago before the museum opened. Going deep to the foundations of the site, my body tensed up with emotions from that day. I visited all the exhibits except the films. But the faces got to me. The memorial has the victims’ names etched into copper. Down here, each name was connected to a portrait. Face after face. Person after person. Life after life cut short on one day.
I took only one photo at the museum. I didn’t want to be a shutterbug at the site of such a tragedy.
I was the last one to rejoin the guys outside the museum. Jeremy went to dinner with a friend in Koreatown in Midtown. The rest of us stopped at Union Square for the holiday market. My favorite booth at the market was the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. I knew that the guys would enjoy the stuff at the booth. We spent several minutes looking at the merchandise, which included dolls of philosophers, artists and other celebrities. Colin, who has a philosophy degree, was disappointed that the booth lacked dolls of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas or Martin Heidegger. He especially wanted to buy a Heidegger doll for his brother.
Afterward, we walked past the Flatiron Building. We ate dinner at pub near Herald Square. Completing the tourist itinerary, we walked through Times Square to Rockefeller Center. But the tree was still being decorated and wouldn’t be lit in a few days. Funny, I thought the tree is usually taller and skinnier. We watched the skaters in the ice rink before we returned to Redemptorists.
On Saturday, we ventured into my old neighborhood, South Ozone Park. We had Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. (My childhood parish St. Anthony’s has only a vigil Mass on Saturdays.) I wanted to arrive early for the Spanish rosary, which I prayed with women there on Fridays and Saturdays this summer.
Next began the Jonas Tour. I showed the guys my old stomping grounds: elementary school, childhood churches and the houses I grew up in. I joked that in case I was ever canonized, the guys could remember my key childhood sites.
The last stop of the tour was my family’s house. The guys met my mother, my sister Liza and the dogs.
My mother went with us to her favorite Chinese buffet, Century Super Buffet, in Queens Village. I anticipated many (humiliating) childhood stories. Fortunately, Liza mentioned only one embarrassing story. That’s not worth repeating here.
After lunch, Leland, Colin and I ventured to the Cloisters, a museum with medieval art in Upper Manhattan. The sculptures of the Virgin Mary appealed to me. The sculptors had captured personality and charm.
Toward the end of Saturday, most of us went with Jeremy to have dinner with his cousin Sun at Burke and Wills, an Australian-themed restaurant, in the Upper West Side. I tried the kangaroo burger. Yum, kangaroo.
Sunday morning, we left to avoid the holiday traffic into Boston.
It was fun to have a bonus trip to NYC. But now the academic crunch time has arrived. I better get to work.