‘Cue and canolis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2005

Everyone has things they hold close to their hearts when it comes to memories of growing up.

For me, those memories revolve around the once small economically challenged town of Nyack along the Hudson River in New York.

Nyack, in its earlier days, was a small merchant town known for its Indian heritage and beautiful landscape of mountains and valleys.

Over time, people of various cultural backgrounds who had immigrated to America, settled in the area, causing Nyack to develop into a town with unique eclectic character.

From the red stone mansion where Thomas Edison worked on some of his most incredible inventions, just three blocks from the house I grew up in and the home of former actress Helen Hayes, otherwise known as &uot;Pretty Penny,&uot; (less than five miles away which later became the residence of contemporary actress and former talk show host Rosie O’Donnell), to the maze of underground tunnels I used to explore as a teenager that were built into the heart of Hook Mountain and employed by Alexander Hamilton during the Revolutionary War, there is something comfortably familiar about the things that make up the place I still call home.

I could be happy right where I am, but give me to opportunity to go back home to visit and I’m in heaven. I guess it could be said about me, &uot;You can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the girl,&uot; because it’s the truth.

Just the smell of Italian pastries and water rolled bagels makes me breathe a sigh of contentment. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to savor a piece of authentic New York cheesecake at Quinton’s in Ahoskie or buying a slice of New York-style hand tossed, thin crust pizza at Lasca’s Express, but it did wonders for my psyche.

When people are removed from what is familiar to them, even the smallest indulgence from home is welcomed. Even soldiers and overseas missionaries live for the care packages they receive from loved ones back home.

It’s not hard to identify with their sentiment. There’s just something about home that causes people to light up.

Recently, my husband told me of a newly wed young woman who made her way from Lithuania to North Carolina after six months of being separated from her husband.

My heart was flooded with compassion for the woman as he explained how she was missing the familiarity of the people places and things she grew up with even though she, no doubt, rejoiced being with her husband.

Her situation reminded me of how I felt when I first moved to the south and the tremendous culture shock I felt. I simply couldn’t begin to imagine the isolation she must feel trying to adapt to a completely new culture and language.

I must confess, the first year of my existence down here I thought I would never get over the withdrawal from not having a mall or a Starbucks within 20 miles of my new residence, (so if anyone tells you &uot;real&uot; malls and &uot;good&uot; coffee aren’t addicting, give them my number)!

Although, my experience can hardly compare to that of someone relocating completely out of the country (despite my nightmarish encounters with vinegar barbeque and deer meat, yuck), one thing is certain. Even the smallest piece of home is a treasure, even if it does amount to a cappuccino and a canoli.