I was born in Queens and grew up in the Bronx, both boroughs of New York City. My neighborhood had rapidly changed (and not in a good way) during my teenaged years. I spent my last evening, as I did with so many late spring and summer nights, listening to gang members gathering to wile away the hours under my apartment building window while I dreamed of escape.
I wasn't the only one who dreamed of escape.
The Bronx holds many memories for me. But it wasn't what I wanted.
I was never a big city person. While everyone I grew up with (as far as I know) left the Bronx, some never left the city. But I did.
Although I've been back to the city, I've only returned to the Bronx a handful of times, most recently a quick drive-through in 2004 to show it to my then-teenaged son.
Every May 31, though, I think about my old childhood neighborhood.
Thanks to You Tube, I can be transported to my old elevated subway stop, and (starting about 2:36) see the housing project where I grew up. (It also amazes me people love these train videos.)
Even if you don't play the above video, you see a still of a church. On weekends, I, with other neighborhood children, used to throw rice at some weddings (when they let us). One of my cousins, in fact, was married in that church.
The funeral home pictured was there when I was growing up, as was the post office.
Now, living in upstate New York, I think of the green hills surrounding me every morning, and I know I made the right decision. But, sometimes, the urge to visit the Bronx again comes back.
One day, when things are safer, I may be back, listening to the rhythms of the #2 train, remembering the old Third Avenue El, and walking the streets of my project once again.
Or, it may just be in my dreams. Sometimes, you can not go back.