In these days of war, death and confusion – I find myself getting overwhelmed. The things we know for sure in our heart are being questioned by others who’s hearts must be tainted. Hatred and violence are ruling the world and the hole we have dug ourselves into is just closing us in below the surface.
So – I thought to myself – what is better than thinking about the present and dreading what the future may hold? Remembering the past as I choose to remember it. The long summer days spent playing stoop ball by myself, the early spring afternoons we would run to play softball in the schoolyard. The block parties when the whole block would come together as friends with the smell of charcoal barbecue in the air as captivating as my friend’s sister’s perfume when she would smile at me as I watched her walk by with her shorts and tube top. What a piece of fashion that tube top!
I grew up in NYC – Brooklyn, to be exact and Brooklyn when I was growing up was a mess.
I became conscience of life in the early 70’s, as I was born in 1966. Some people remember when they were 2 – I just have some almost forgotten, definetly embellished, romanticized, nurtured and beloved scenes in my head of how it used to be.
The 1970’s were filled with graffiti decorated subway cars shaking and stopping on the McDonald Avenue F- Line. Time Square was similar to a neglected teenager’s room. Filled with discarded brochures, ticket stubs and empty bottles of cheap booze. Cigarette butts, old newspapers and the occasional vagrant beneath films of dirt, soda cans and discarded wrappers from food, would add to the decor.
Shea Stadium was a giant ghost town bereft of optimism, wins and fans. Coney Island was as welcoming as a prison without the chance for parole. Broken and neglected rides, storefronts and ruled by gangs and warriors. The carousel still spun and we went on there a couple of times and stopped to get cotton candy and candy apples.
We would drive in my parents 1966 Chevrolet Impala from our home on East 2nd street and go to Shatzkins Knishes or Kosher Country (or Kosher King) for a snack or dinner.
I remember TV being a big part of my life back then as well. The Six Million Dollar Man, Lost in Space, The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, The Odd Couple…I could go on and on. But what has stuck with me, strangely enough, are the commercials we were held captive to watch.
“Ring around the collar…”
Alka Seltzer – “Mamma Mia!”
I also remember the milk being delivered, frozen on some mornings and my father making coffee very early in the morning. I would run to be with him and to lay with him and my mother as they had their morning conversations. Speaking in Arabic to try and stop me from understanding what they were saying. I could usually figure it out though.
So when I feel kind of closed in I think about east 14th St where I spent my first 8 years of my life. My parents, my siblings, my friends…Then I transport myself to 1885 E 2nd St and I am cognizant of the world around me. Transportation from one time to another can be kind of therapeutic. Didn’t Einstein say something about time being relative and not absolute? Hmm…maybe its time to switch to another time when I was too young to understand too much that it causes me great confusion.