While traveling from JFK airport into Manhattan, one obviously notices the skyline of tall buildings that make up all that is New York city. The buildings sit right against each other and compete for a view of the clear blue sky. Space is valuable. Most New York apartments are tiny. Oh, there are larger apartments, of course, but let’s just say the expense is much greater.
My daughter took me to a couple of eating establishments and bars while I was visiting her this past week. I love the look of the old brick on the walls and the close proximity to other tables. Space is at its minimum. The places are quite narrow. Some only have eight to ten tables that seat four people, all hugging the tiny perimeter of the tiny establishment. I liked it. Made me feel all snug in a bug in a rug. Their grocery stores are small. Some fruit markets appear on the street to make room. They work with what they have. I love it.
All in all, real estate in New York is pricey and you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck. But, that’s ok. It’s a trade off for being able to live and work in the greatest city on earth.
I did notice one piece of real estate that looks different from where I live. When I was little, we used to drive past the Paris cemetery on the way to my grandparents home. I had to hear the same joke from my dad every single time. Oh, how I wish I could hear it one more time.
“Hey, Vickie, guess how many people are dead in that cemetery?”
“I don’t know, Dad. How many?”
“All of them.” And he would crack up like it was the first time he ever told the joke. I am serious when I say that I heard that joke at least one hundred times. As I got older, I would act like I never heard the joke before. That made it a lot of fun.
But, the Paris cemetery had some green space. Shouldn’t all cemeteries? Doesn’t everyone want to be placed under an oak tree after they die? I mean, I sure as hell don’t, but really what is the purpose of a cemetery? It is supposed to be, afterall, a “final resting place.” Well, I want to be buried in the sand on the beach then. Beach burials. I think I have something here.
But if we are supposed to be “resting” , I’m thinking that they think differently in New York City about burying people. I was amazed how the people of New York are basically buried on top of each other. Well, I mean, dead people. I am sure they don’t mind having their coffins touching another one. After all, it’s New York. They die like they live. Close to others.
The trip from the airport took me by several graveyards. I was amazed as to how close the marble headstones are to each other. There is no rhyme nor reason. I can’t imagine hunting for an ancestor. How the hell would you even to begin to find someone? Genealogy is a big thing in this country. I even belonged to Ancestry.com for a few weeks. Finding a grave in New York City would be like, well, finding a particular park bench in Central Park. Except that would be so much easier. I am sure they would have to have a graveyard counter person.
“Oh, Wilbur Macgillicutty? Yes, Wilbur is resting in row 2C, space 4.” This is how it is probably done in a majority of cemeteries.
Oh, not in New York. Good luck finding Wilbur Macgillicutty. And if you are looking for a Joe Smith, good freaking luck. I don’t see how it could be done. The gravesites are that close to each other.
As for visiting when you do find the gravesite, forgetaboutit. There is no room to sit down and have a conversation with your grandpa. You would be sitting down on Mrs. Martino. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. Don’t go there on a hot sunny day. There aren’t many trees, if any at all. Remember, space is limited. It’s New York City.
I guess it is a good thing that there is at least someplace to lie your head after you die in New York City. They could have put you on a barge and set you out to sea. I mean, you have to go somewhere.
As the real estate in New York gets more expensive and land becomes even more precious than it is now in 2012, what will become of the cemeteries in New York City? I’ve watched Poltergeist, you know. I know what greedy land developers are capable of. They have been moving cemeteries for centuries. Or just their headstones. Scared, aren’t you?
So, what is going to happen? Some cemeteries are filled up I am sure.
Will they start making cremations the norm? I have my own valid suggestions. Now, don’t get upset with me. I just personally don’t want to be buried. I’m too claustrophobic. Oh sure, I know I will be dead, but perhaps the dead have feeling too. We don’t know for sure, now do we?
This is what I think we should do.
Space- Well, we need “space,” right? Well, why not the real space? You know, like way out there. I know our space program has been dismantled, but I think that was a bad decision. You could put the dearly departed in space and inject them into an asteroid belt. They would have different orbits that could be named. Just like how we have Orion’s Belt, we could have them called Rest Haven. People buy their very own star. Well, you could tell people that Grandpa is now in orbit instead of that he went to Heaven. Heaven is so subjective. I really think I have something here.
One big campfire- I, for one, want to be cremated. I don’t want people putting stupid wreaths on my grave that look like horse blankets for race horses. I just really don’t understand the purpose of cemeteries. Well, funeral directors are right up there with bankers and lawyers for some people. Ambulance chasers for the dearly departed. But, why not go to camp after you die? Relatives could sing “Kumbaya” and then put your little pine box on the bonfire wood. I would so do this. It’s better than having stupid piped in music at the funeral home and the minister talking about you, mispronouncing your name. I’ve been there when it happened. I just think it is a racket that I want no part of. So, yeah, send me to camp.
In the end, New York City is going to have to take a look at their graveyard situation. They are making money on tours, as there are famous people resting in some of the graveyards.
Green Wood Cemetery- In Brooklyn, there are 560,000 permanent residents, including F.A.O. Schwartz and Leonard Bernstein.
Woodlawn-The Bronx-More than 300,00 permanent residents…Nelly Bly, Duke Ellington, R.H. Macy, Herman Melville, Joseph Pulitzer, F.W. Woolworth. This cemetery is hopping. It conducts an Easter egg roll and has music by Duke Ellington at times, and an early morning bird walk. This is the one I believe that I passed while on my way to the airport. It’s huge.
In the end, there is an end. We all will end up there. The city of New York is unique in that there are so many people living there. And again, in the end, people need and deserve a final resting place. But, as real estate becomes even more expensive and rare, creative thinking will need to come into play.
And I’m thinking space will have some space. Who wouldn’t want to be lying among the stars?