T he last leg of the journey is the easiest, Boruch finds, in a car again after hours of breathing stale airplane air and feeling cramped. There is a certain relaxation he feels as the taxi — no, not an Uber; his kids make fun of him for never signing up for Uber or figuring out how it works — leaves the airport tunnel and heads into the streets of real New Jersey, the grimy windows and sloping row houses and massage parlors and tanning salons and small delis, checks cashed here, sandwiches made fresh daily.

Boruch no longer thinks of Passaic as home, he has a home and life of his own in Los Angeles, but he enjoys the feeling of returning, having made good. “The magnate,” his father sometimes calls him, and Boruch protests, but deep down he likes it. What were the odds, he sometimes thinks, the son of an electrician from New Jersey. Marrying Miriam helped, that’s for sure. From out in California, his father always said, Boruch married a girl from out in California. Her father had started him off with the apartment buildings. In the old days, Boruch did the electrical work himself, never imagining he wasn’t expected to splice wires or replace sockets or do anything else.

The taxi driver doesn’t like Boruch, that’s obvious. Boruch makes a comment about Trump, something mindless and simple like, “Fun times with the new president, huh?” and the driver slams the brakes and scowls. “You don’t know Putin,” he says, his eyebrows a single line of contempt in the rearview mirror. “I do. He crazy man. Trump like him, just as crazy.”

Boruch straightens his tie as the taxi heads off the 21; he knows it makes Daddy feel good to see him looking the part, the businessman from California whom he boasts about to his friends. Under the spell of his own success, Boruch over-tips the surly driver before hoisting the overnight bag out of the trunk and heading up the path.

He feels virtuous. He doesn’t get back often anymore — work and the children keep him busy — but he’s grabbed this chance, the holiday weekend, to go visit. In on the Motzaei Shabbos red-eye and back on the Monday night. A pleasant walk, a few trips to shul, maybe a drive to the new grocery store and back to the airport. Daddy sounds so tired, and news of Boruch’s coming always perks him up.

Daddy has come to him, Pesach and Sukkos and even Chanukah, but Boruch hasn’t made it to the East Coast in a while.


Since. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Pesach 5777-2017)