Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A visit to the islands

Pin It I walked along the wharf eating a warm Cinnabon.

The surf crashed against the retaining wall as the cool wind—a welcome change—blew in my face as the gulls rode gracefully over the rolling waves on eddying air currents.

I quickened my pace, scattering a flock of pigeons who’d been strutting along, heads bobbing as if to say, “Look, I belong here and you don’t—you’re just visiting, thank you very much.”

I turned on my iPod and slipped into my earbuds, pulling out my willow-colored notebook and jotting down a few observations as I walked, feeling invigorated with life itself to the sweet tones of Vertical Horizon.

The Cinnabon was consumed, fingers licked clean of the sticky, cinnamony, sugary, goodness which had been left behind.


The line to board the schooner was relatively short, and in a manner of minutes I found myself on my way to visit Lady Liberty.

As the vessel moved closer to the small island, the statue grew larger, rising up like a testament to freedom. I changed the music on my iPod; Neil Diamond’s “America” flooded my ears—the imagery it created in my thoughts was intertwined with that which I was now seeing.

It was magical.

I have no words.

To catch a glimpse of what the immigrants to this country had seen as they ended their perilous voyages from their varied countries was amazing; to see this monolith holding aloft her torch must have been a breathtaking sight for many of them. After all, it was for me, and I live in 2009—an age of computers and technology.

I walked the grounds.

I drank it in.

I was stirred.

I stayed, and then continued my journey to Ellis Island.

I must admit that in reality there are truly no words which can convey what I felt as I traveled to that next little island and stood in that vast anteroom. Something came over me—which comes over me yet again as I pen these words to the page before me.

I called my dad.

I felt tears pulling at my eyes—tears for those who’d come before, knowing what it must have felt like for the millions who’d passed though this portal years before my time.


When I thought of some of my own ancestors walking in this same space that I was now—separated by the span of a hundred or more years—it was a humbling experience. I will always be grateful for that feeling I had standing at Ellis Island; a feeling which I will never forget.

I remained on those grounds nearly the entire day; wandering, reflecting, reading, and just being. I could have stayed a lot longer.

When it finally came time for me to go, I feel like a piece of me was left behind.


annette said...

"Stirring" describes this post. It's truly a blessing to be an American, to recognize the sacrifices of those who have gone on before us, and those who continue to serve- and to realize that is deeply humbling.

You promised pictures and you didn't disappoint. They are, awe-inspiring. Thank you.

Mamma has spoken said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures. I love how you find the beauty in what others wouldn't notice.

Linn said...

You pictures are absolutely incredible. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Kathy said...

This was wonderful, thanks for sharing and thanks for all the great pictures. I feel they really capture your words and feelings. I could almost hear the murmurs of the visitors, the pidgeons and echoes.

LauraB said...

Ellis Island holds a cherished corner of my New York memories. Thanks for taking me back.

Danielle said...

Seriously Amazing....

Corine said...

AWESOME! :D ...Proud to be an American! Your writing here today has created within me a great desire to visit Ellis Island. I really want to go there!!!

Thinking of what others went through, to make it possible FOR ME, FOR ALL OF US, to have what we now have... is so humbling; it realy gets me counting my blessings thanfully. It makes me want to work a little harder to keep our country free.

Thanks for sharing! :D

Anonymous said...

Oh, I've been slacking in the blog reading dept--always do when I'm on vacation! Love the pics and this post. Visited EI several years ago and am still haunted by it--such an experience. It's such a photography playground, as NYC is. Can't wait to see the rest of your photos.

Teachinfourth said...

A - I will be honest here, I felt a little pressure with a few emails I received and a few comments as well about, "I can't wait to see the amazing photos you're going to take out there!" I made sure to look for good shots out there...

Oh, and I'm not done yet either.

M - Like I told Annette, there is not pressure out there.

L - Thanks for keeping coming back; not just you but everybody. Writing and sharing all of this wouldn't be nearly as much fun if nobody ever read it.

K - Ellis Island was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip...I still have to write about my two others.

L - You were out there for awhile? How come I didn't know/remember that?

D - Just wait until you see the museum...I'm not done yet.

C - I think that everyone should experience Ellis Island at some point in their life - preferably a point when they will appreciate and fully understand it.

L - Haunted is a good word. I'm still feeling that way. You're absolutely right about the 'photography playground' as well...indeed it is.

Kris said...

Awesome pics....Just think of all those that have passed that still need to be baptized and sealed!

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