A baptism in the Bronx

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to live in the city again, and then I take a trip to the city, and remember how much I like the suburbs in comparison.

Early Saturday morning, we dressed up in some decent regalia, packed the kids up in the car, and made our way to the Bronx for my cousin Shaun (and his wife Sony’s) daughter’s baptism. This was their second child, and the baptism was here in NYC, specifically in the Bronx. My cousins have been worshipping at a church in the Bronx for decades, so while growing up, my family occasionally made trips there for various family milestones like baptisms. We haven’t gone to many events in recent years unfortunately. I still feel a little guilty about that, but schedules haven’t quite always worked out.

We made our way up the Turnpike and across the GW Bridge, but we hit a lot of traffic and nutty drivers. Crazy U-turns, cars double-parked, one minivan broken down in the middle of the street with a rear wheel that fell off, you name it. With much going on, I didn’t feel like attempting to find street parking, so we parked at a relatively new parking garage for the Bronx Botanical Gardens for $12. We made it to the service by 11am, found my family in the packed church, and the baptism began maybe 30-45 mins later. It was a pretty hot day, but we survived the heat. I’m also not a big fan of the Syrian Orthodox church services, with all the standing, the total lack of English, and the incense, but hey, I’m not here to judge. I’m here to support the family. Lily did say she didn’t understand all the “Spanish.”

We had lunch at the reception in the church hall downstairs, we made conversation and exchanged pleasantries with family and folks we haven’t seen in years. Eventually, we made our exit around 1:30pm so that we could get back on the road and home for the next events on the family calendar (Josh’s swim class), as well as a surprise 60th birthday party. More on that later.

Overall, I’m glad we could be there for the family. I used to be very close with my 1st and 2nd cousins while growin up in Rockland. We all lived within 20 mins of each other, and my Mom would take us over there regularly so she could hang out with her older sister. We also used to visit my 2nd cousins in the area often. Meanwhile, we cousins would hang out, have Thanksgiving together, we used to go to each other’s events, etc. Over time as we’ve all gotten older, started our own families, and moved farther apart, I’ve grown apart from the rest of the family. All of the Rockland cousins hang out regularly — whether at church or what-not, and I barely see them anymore. I feel some pangs of guilt here, because I remember what good times we use to have hanging out. And I see my kids, and they dont get to hang out with a big group of cousins, their extended family, like I used to do. I miss those days, and I feel guilt that my kids are sort of missing out on the richness of those types of familial bonds.

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