I walked to the corner the other day and I walked right into Mr. White. Remember him? He was the guy that wore white every day between June 19 and September 21. He asked about you and if you ever did find your dream. I shrugged and responded that, “Dreams can be evasive and have multiple identities.” He just shook his head and moved on.
A stray cat sashayed by me and it reminded me of the time we sang the “Stray Cat Strut” in Karaoke back in the early 90’s or so. In a seedy bar with watered down top shelf booze at top shelf prices. The bartender with the short black hair and the low cut blouse – her tip jar overflowing. She always smiled at you in a special way, but then again, you had that thing about you.
The TE-AMO on Kings Highway closed and no one even made a sound. We used to buy our baseball cards there and then trade them – I got my Bruce Boisclair card from you for a Mickey Rivers plus the gum from your pack. We also used to get our pink spaldings and our sunflower seeds from there. We would pretend to be chewing tobacco while we played stickball in the schoolyard. You were Sparky Lyle and I was Dave Kingman and then I was Tom Seaver and you were Thurman Munson.
Old man Jerry sold the business a while ago to a man from Pakistan who ran the place without personality and without regard to the history of the place. He stopped selling spaldings and wiffle bats and balls. He brought in a more business sense rather than a familial sense – which I guess made sense. But it took away a neighborhood staple. Without Jerry the place was just another generic store with dirty magazines, cigarettes and the daily newspapers.
About the schoolyard…
They are building an extension to the school right on the spot where we used to play. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it – but I am sure the old man from across the street is happy that no one will be walking in his 2×4 “garden” searching for balls that were hit there. He is still old, by the way, I think he was born old.
I stopped by the old house the other day because I was feeling nostalgic – I am always feeling nostalgic – it’s a pain in the ass this feeling nostalgic. Do you get like that? Anyway…I walked there and it had been knocked down and all that stood there was a wall behind a wooden barrier. There was a green garbage crate or whatever they call it – where the broken down walls were piled.
Memories of that house flooded through the air – fourth of July fireworks, sitting on the porch watching the girls walk on by as they laugh and then turn around to check if we are looking at them. Playing stoop ball, those block parties and fist fights.
Laying in my bed and listening to the Met’s game on my transistor radio – Bob Murphy telling us to “fasten your seat belts we’re heading for the ninth!” Snowstorms, thunderstorms, hot and steamy summer nights. Laurie, Blaire and Connie* – remember that night we literally sat on the porch with our group of friends from eleven at night until the sunrise the next morning? My father came down to get the newspaper and laughed out loud when he saw us and said, “Crazy.”
Are you happy now? Did you ever find any semblance of what you needed to find? I think of you often and I wonder how things, how my life, could have been different if you had stayed. But I understood why you left and I respected it. I just never understood why you left me behind as well.
Well, we are older now and I found you on facebook. Funny how you changed the spelling of your last name but kept the actual name. Your picture shows you looking a little grayer but at least you are smiling.
We had some childhood, didn’t we? I am not ashamed to say that I loved you and that I cried when you left. At first I was livid and I wanted to find you. But your mom told me to let you be – some scars can only heal with time and distance.
Me? Well, I’ve been blessed with love. Been mislead and also carried through some tough times. Those footprints on the sand along with the rainbows in the sky reminded me there is only so much we can control but that we are being looked after. I still listen to Dylan and Elton – I saw Billy Joel in concert a couple of years ago and at times I focus on the void within me.
Maybe it’s you I am missing.
Maybe it’s the lack of truth and the upside down morality that is drowning any sense of right and wrong in this world.
Maybe it’s just me over thinking from my overly nostalgic and romantic perch. I expect sanity when there is none and I expect dignity where no dignity exists.
I am getting off point here – do you remember how I always lost focus? You would give me a look or smack my back to set me straight. I could have used that several times in my life – I could have used you several times in my life.
Maybe we can get together and grab some coffee? Watch a baseball game or even sit on the porch and reminisce. In any case – I miss you and I could use a smack on the back or a stern look from you – just to set me straight again, again.