I like to play connect the neighborhoods. Places I guess I’ll never see again. I haven’t forgotten where I come from, but I don’t really intend to go back if I can help it. Not that there’s anything wrong with those places, they’re just part of my past is all. And, with a few notable exceptions, most of the people I care about from there have left.
So I picture streets and landmarks and see if I can remember how they come together. From East New York to Ozone Park; from Oh Zee to Howard Beach or to Rockaway 116 or to Woodhaven; from Woodhaven to Richmond Hill and Glendale. I could go further of course, but those were the limits of my intimate acquaintance.
I know I’m already missing big chunks in my imagination.
But I remember Dan’s Supreme in front of which a little boy was hit by a bus. He lived in an apartment over the lunheonette – or was it already a pizzeria by then? A dirty little boy, he seemed to me, with a lot of tough older brothers and sisters. He had survived falling through the ice in Central Park and nearly drowning some time before, but this time Death got him. I remember his name too. And if you knew it, you could Google him and read the story without the interesting details.
I remember being so tired and discouraged on my walk home from elementary school one day that I sat down on my book bag across from the high school, just a block from home. A teenager – a black teenager – came to me to ask me if I was OK. To my everlasting shame, I spat at her and ran for home. She couldn’t catch me. I wish I could say sorry.
I remember City Line where my stepmother bought our shoes and did our laundry and 64 park where my brother and I ran off to when chores were done.
I remember J – a large, long-haired and bearded man with sagging and faded blue jeans who always carried around armloads of old shoes. Everyone was very nice to him – no one was ever disrespectful to him either to his face or behind his back. No one ever even gossiped about him to me. So I can only imagine he was the eccentric son of some Mafioso. Or else he had a legit shoe repair business and I was too dumb to figure that out.
My friend N and I bought matching pink unicorn muscle shirts and feather roach clips to wear in our hair from Aqueduct flea market. We had no idea what those clips were really for but innocence didn’t last long.
Do you remember the old trestle where I first tried cigarettes and and wine coolers? I think there were homeless people living there. I wonder if teenagers still try to be cool at The Dome in Forest Park.
I see my church on Myrtle Avenue – I still idealize it even though I know it was full of sinners.
And there’s Grandma’s house where it was always sunny, lilacs and sweet peas and lily of the valley always bloomed and I was always safe.
What do you remember?
This is part of Jennifer Fulwiler’s 7 Posts in 7 Days insanity so you can check out the other participants and look forward to more of my blather this week.