We live in " New York" I tell my daughter as I wheel her to school, preschool, her on a skateboard attached to the bright blue stroller that houses our slumbering five month old Naomi. She listens as I correct myself- " Brooklyn" - and then- "Crown Heights". " Have you heard of Crown Heights?" I ask her, and she nods, though such nods can't be taken for certain. Satisfied, I look straight ahead as we roll down the old sidewalks, reflecting on this rollercoaster ride of journeys and life we have chosen. To her, though, it's all normal, it's what it is. She doesn't know that beyond this sidewalk, beyond the stretch of land that we go around in circles, is a greater greater world out there. She doesn't realize that she flew across the world, was born in a different place in a different culture. Her memory is foggier on the last two plus years that ours is, and from our limited vantage point we can appreciate where we are. She appreciates where she is because she appreciate it; we appreciate where we are because of where we came from and where we want to go. " Oh, Tanya," I think in my mind. " If only you knew where our journeys have taken us.If only you knew."
Later that day, I roll on Kingston Ave, in the twilight, after getting some space and air to breathe alongside Eastern Parkway. The mass of Jewish men in black, the personalities slightly hidden by their beards and conversely dramatically popping out, refined and withholding, bursting with energy and laughing. Rushing. We're all rushing and as the masses pass each other, I reflect on what is this place " Crown Heights" that I was talking with my daughter about earlier today. It's essence, like the Rebbe, like essence itself, uncapturable. It's personality always shifting depending on how you look at it, how you're feeling that day, which people you choose to notice, It's magical and disgusting, old and rickety and yet full of the latest up and coming interiors and gadgets. It's annoying and inspirational. It's constantly in flux, with visitors pouring in, pouring in, pouring out, filling our walls and streets with the sights and feels of the rest of the world, and then leaving us, to go out back into the world and fill it with kedusha. This is our world, Tanya Esther Avigayil, this is our world.