Lana Hechtman Ayers Welcome to the New World Movement in my peripheral vision’s edge makes me look away from the screen out the window in front of my desk. I’m barely in time to catch the tell-tale white head and serrated wide wings of an eagle—American symbol of freedom— before it soars over the roofline out of view. I’ve been staring at my computer for so long the words of the manuscript I’m editing have become ancient hieroglyphics. The sight of the cumulus-filled sky bordered in blue and the rippled pink-tinged beige sand and aqua green seawater below the hillside is such welcome relief. Concentration has been hard to achieve with the startling grief I’m experiencing during this global pandemic— so many losses. To look out at this bright spring day one could be fooled into believing all is well. Calm. People strolling the weekday beach, throwing frisbees or tossing balls to their dogs. Even the stubborn hydrangea outside my porch gate has come into full leaf, buds at the ready. But my heart will not settle into steady rhythm. My breath is shallow. Later, I must make my weekly excursion into town for food—masked, gloved, hatted, scarfed—looking like a nineteenth century immigrant just off the boat from Poland, wearing all of the clothes she owned at once, frightened of the unknown new territory where communication and comfort appeared impossible. I wonder, is this how my grandmother felt, fifteen and alone, disembarked at Ellis Island into the blinding sunlight after weeks seasick in the dark bowels of the ship? Her family had sent her in 1918, decades ahead of the holocaust, not knowing she’d be the only one of her bloodline to make safe passage. And how did my young grandmother manage her loneliness, knowing no one else, everyone and everything around her strange and possibly dangerous? I never once in all the years I knew her, nor in the years since her passing, stopped to think of her bravery. I never thanked her or celebrated her for being the heroine she was. She made my American life possible. If my grandmother could muster all that courage at the tender age of fifteen for a sea journey of weeks, surely, I can manage as much for a simple half-hour trip to the grocery store and back, in my own car, me a native here in my fifth decade of life.