Nick and I have a long history of visits to San Francisco, both individually and together. I don’t know when his started, but mine began in 1973, when my friend Arlene and I decided to take a trip to California. Our vacation was great fun, and it had two elements that stand out in my memory. One was that I drove the entire way from San Francisco to San Diego. The other was that I spent much of the time telling Arlene about the man I had met a few months before, whose name was Nick. Most recently, Nick and I had gone to San Francisco in 2013 to visit our son, Nicholas. I wanted to go back this year, and as soon as our doctors gave their consent, we made our plans. Most people’s travel plans begin with places they want to see, but mine always begin with friends and family members with whom I want to connect or reconnect.
I was surprised to find out how much traffic there was on I-95 at 3:45 A.M on a Thursday morning! Ninety minutes later, I was not merely surprised, but amazed to see what seemed to be thousands of people on lines to board Jet Blue planes at JFK at 5 A.M! Find the right line, print your own luggage tag, load your luggage onto the conveyor belt yourself, and remember to take a picture of your luggage in case it gets lost. And we were more fortunate than most of our fellow travelers: We were allowed to keep our shoes on! Our plane arrived in San Francisco at 10 A.M.
Nick was able to find a few available hotel rooms for the night of our arrival, but the cost was $800 for the night. Oh, yes, he also found a room in a basement that had a bathroom we would have to share with the residents of two other rooms, but that was not going to work for me. I asked my cousin Carol if she had any ideas. She and her husband Cy replied by graciously inviting us to stay with them for the night. I was thrilled, because I knew that we would spend our time together catching up on our Family Tree.
Carol and I are actually second cousins. Although our grandmothers were sisters, Carol’s childhood experiences were different from mine. She and I met for the first time three years ago, the first time Nick and I visited our son, Nicholas, in San Francisco. Having grown up in the borough of Queens in New York City, I was familiar with dozens of relatives who lived within twenty miles. Carol grew up in upstate New York, so spending time with family members was not typical for her. That changed when Carol decided to go to college in New York City. She lived in Brooklyn, visited her grandmother often, and learned about the Parmigiani sisters and their families.
Carol and Cy took the day off, picked us up at the airport, and took us to their lovely home in El Segundo. After preparing a delicious lunch of quiche and lentil salad, Carol sat down with me to talk about our family history. Nick had prepared a genealogy chart for her, and I was so pleased to have been able to add to what she had known about both her mother’s and her father’s ancestries. Then Cy shared his genealogy chart with me. Talk about amazing, he can trace his family back to the prophet Muhammad!
Carol and Cy’s son Cyrus joined the four us for dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant. The chef, who was actually from Italy, was pleased to see how much we enjoyed his food. We shared an appetizer of calamari and shrimp, and I loved my entree of pappardelli with short rib sauce. We shared three desserts, but everyone’s favorite was the zabaglione. After a long, fulfilling and happy day, we settled in quickly back at Carol and Cy’s house for the night.