Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Remembering Home

Forty two years ago today, I spent my last evening as a resident of New York City.

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.)
For all that my childhood neighborhood has changed since the late 1960's (and it has changed a lot) some of the old buildings are still there, and it makes my heart ache just a little to see them in this video. 

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.

7 comments:

  1. Your post inspired me to Google my childhood home's address. I haven't driven over to that side of town in years. I was glad to leave the hopeless folks (and prostitutes next door). Life out here in the burbs for the last 44 years is much different, though it too is changing, and not for the better IMO.

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  2. I left New York a few years before you. But, my memories of the city were the Village, Broadway (both in Manhattan), Brooklyn (where I lived for a short time and went to college, where my grandparents lived), and a few places in Queens.
    I was a Long Island boy- and have been surprised at all the changes to my childhood haunts.
    But, unless my income routinely averages 2 commas-worth, I have no intention of returning aa a full-time resident.

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  3. Absolutely lovely. Thanks for the reflection!

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  4. Our childhood homes never leave us, do they? Even when they experience decline and are not places we would choose to live now, there are so many memories there of the events and people who formed us.

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  5. The memories remain, even if you're not there physically.

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  6. coincidence - but I was just discussing that recently. Going back to the house where I lived the first decade of my life, just to relive those childhood memories from 25 years ago

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  7. I did a Google maps tour of my old neighborhood. It looked EXACTLY the same -- kind of freaky, actually. lol

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