By Phyllis J. Lubin
I am where I want to be, relaxing while viewing the glorious shore of the Atlantic Ocean. I’m enjoying some tranquil moments at my place of refuge: the Sunny Atlantic Beach Club. We have discovered a quiet spot on the upper deck where we can lie on a comfortable lounge chair while looking out at Hashem’s magnificent creations without the spray of sand. While looking out at the beautiful horizon, I have found a few moments to muse: camp is over; the bar mitzvah is behind us; and my college freshman is safely ensconced in her new temporary home for the next four years.
Since the decision was made for Rochel to attend SUNY Albany back in the spring, we have been anticipating this move. Back then, somehow it seemed like a long time in the future. I couldn’t really envision that she would actually move away. We joked about how she and I would just take “early retirement”: spend our days meeting for lunch, relaxing on the beach, and shopping; or that she would chuck the whole school idea and just open a nail salon (she is an extremely talented nail artist). But we knew that retirement was not an option (for either of us) and that she would need a college degree before undertaking any business opportunity.
And so, as soon as the bar mitzvah celebrations ended this past Sunday, we realized that Rochel had to pack. Rochel is an expert packer. I would not have been able to send Lea and Yussie off to sleepaway camp without Rochel’s expertise. I was not nervous that she wouldn’t be able to pack up in time—I was just nervous that she would be moving out. I know that she will succeed in this new foreign environment. Rochel is friendly and outgoing, so making new friends will not be a challenge for her. But I will be missing Rochel deeply. Every one of my children is a vital cog in our family, and the absence of any one of them from the home causes a void.
Of course the Lubins are constantly on the move—especially Yussie! As we were preparing for our trip to Albany, we were also preparing Yussie for his trip with Bais Ezra’s end-of-summer program at Camp Romimu! On Wednesday morning, Leib, Rochel, Lea, and I embarked on our Albany adventure, and Wednesday afternoon Yussie embarked on his Romimu adventure (with the assistance of my mom, my eldest daughter, and Rivka). Yussie will be away until Monday morning, leaving the members of our house (albeit temporarily) down to five. All of a sudden it seems like our family is shrinking—at least the ones living at home.
The trip to Albany was pleasant enough—with Leib in the driver’s seat, and Rochel “riding shotgun,” Lea and I were able to watch a movie on the van’s DVD player. Fortunately for the driver and navigator, we finally figured out how to utilize the headphones so that the front passengers were able to hear their music, while we enjoyed the distraction of the movie. As my readers know, I am not a great backseat driver, and anything that distracts me from the driving aspect of the trip is surely beneficial.
The weather was beautiful, so our trip was uneventful. The move into the dorm room went smoothly, so we were able to whisk Rochel away to view our hotel room at the Albany Hilton. This trip has brought back memories. When I was a freshman in college, in the spring semester I interned in the New York State Assembly through a program from Queens College. I lived with my roommate Debby in a quaint townhouse not far from the Legislative Office Building. I remember one time Debby and I decided to take a “vacation” from our apartment, and we stayed for a night at the Albany Hilton (discounted through working at the legislature), which was only a short walk from our apartment. We were able to enjoy the indoor pool, and the thrill of being in an elegant hotel! And so, when I was planning this trip to SUNY Albany, the first hotel I looked for was the Albany Hilton. After chatting with the friendly manager, John D’Amo, I discovered that the hotel had changed hands many times since I was an intern, and just now, a few decades later, it had become a Hilton once again, and we were back here and able to witness its transformation. It had been updated, and the lobby was altered a bit, but the hotel I remembered was still there.
Thanks to the welcoming staff at the Hilton, we enjoyed our stay immensely. We were placed in an executive suite, which gave Leib, Lea, and me plenty of room for sleeping and relaxing. In addition, it entitled us to have access to the executive lounge, where we feasted on fresh fruit, chips, and soda. Rochel, Lea, and I had a chance to take a dip in the pool before we brought her back to school to prepare for her various orientation activities. Later that evening, Lea and I even went back for some night swimming.
By 7 a.m. Thursday morning, we were up and ready for more swimming while Lenny was at the Albany shul for davening. After swimming and davening, we enjoyed our breakfast in the executive lounge—fresh fruit, cereal, and coffee. We even met some Cedarhurst landsmen there, who were using the Hilton as a base for their vacation to Lake George—even though this was an hour away, it was an affordable luxurious hotel that offered kosher breakfast choices that made the distance to their sightseeing palatable. We discovered that Chava and I had lifeguarded together when we were both expecting our ten-year-olds. It’s a small world after all!
By the time we met up with Rochel on Thursday morning, she was already unpacked and seemed fully at home in her dorm room. After walking Rochel to her morning orientation, we ventured out to visit Rabbi and Rebbetzin Rubin at the Chabad’s Shabbos House—only a short distance from campus. They call it the Shabbos House, but they have activities throughout the week as well. The Shabbos House is beautiful and the Rubins are warm and welcoming. Rochel and her friends were planning on joining the Rubins for dinner that night. I will feel confident that Rochel will have a home away from home that is nurturing and spiritual!
After shopping for some odds and ends for Rochel (and some nourishment for ourselves) at the Super Walmart, we packed up at the Hilton (after another swim, of course), said goodbye to the lovely staff there, and went back to Rochel’s dorm room to bid her adieu. Although Rochel will be back home for Rosh Hashanah, I couldn’t help but be teary-eyed as I watched her walk off to her next activity—another one of my babies is moving on!
And now I sit looking out at the horizon with three of my daughters with me. Rivka will be moving on to her third year at Stern on Sunday (another move-in event); my eldest daughter will be beginning graduate school on Wednesday; and around the corner Yussie and Lea will be back in school. Time is certainly moving on! v
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children—Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea—and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.