Sunday, April 6, 2008

Brooklyn owes the charmer under me

A small Risa.
Riding in the back seat of my father's Mercedes. Silver. E-Class. Black leather seats. He and mom and in front.
Or maybe I'm older and it's Bill's BMW or his Grand Cherokee or he's driving mom's Volvo or even I'm in high school and it's her Lexus.

But let's say I'm 5 and they're still married and it's the silver Merc'.
And it's 1988.

And we're driving home from my grandparents' house on E.5th Street and Ave. F in Flatbush (Midwood, eh? Another debate for another time, dear reader.)

My grandmother made dinner and we ate in the basement of their 3-story home. In the basement. It's an Italian thing. Sure, there's a dining room, sure! But that's for...I don't know, I can barely remember doing more than going in there with my mother and my grandmother to look at some Norman Rockwell something-or-other (no, really, Rockwell, not just a well-played allusion to times gone by, my grandmother collected Rockwellia). And there were cocktails (Manhattans) and wine and I sat on my grandfather's knee and we read the funnies...and if the weather was at all palatable I played outside. They watched 60 Minutes. I got bored. Read a book, fell asleep on the couch. It was time go....

We drove home through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, and up the West Side Highway and over the GWB. These days, I'd scoff. Tell you to take the BQE to the FDR. Who wants to deal with the lights on the West Side Highway? But my mother hated/hates the BQE. I don't mind it.

And we're gliding across the bridge, and I turn around, waking up, and look behind me at Manhattan. So many lights! At 10PM on a Sunday night and still so many lights on! People are awake, doing things, not fettering away the last hours of the weekend in the back of the car. Fettering them away maybe, but in an exciting way. Dinner parties, a movie, walking the dog, sex, drugs, long talks, reading, whatever, I didn't know. Still don't know. I'm blogging. Weird noises emanating from a neighbor's apartment remind me that in a city so populated, I still don't know how we all spend our Sunday nights.

But what I did know: that's where I wanted to live. In New York City. Where it didn't get dark, which meant there were no monsters in the closet, which meant I didn't have to be afraid, which meant I could be whoever I wanted to be.
An important realization on the way home from my grandparents.

A fact that never changed; they got divorced, cars became other cars, became my car. My grandparents moved to New Jersey, my dad moved to Vermont, my grandfather passed away. I moved to New York City. The house in Brooklyn has been torn down. My mother affirms that she's not ready to go back, that maybe she never will be. I keep thinking I'll ride the Q out there one day, or walk from Brooklyn College. But I haven't yet. Some things belong in memory. Some things are meant to be actualized because of the things in our memories.

Today, I passed the better part of the evenings with Sarah and Donald in Bay Ridge. It nice. We watched Simon Schama's The Power of Art, and ate Middle Eastern food. We had cocktails. We turned the volume up and talked loudly over Schama. It was lovely. It was the same. It was not the same at all.

I took some photos on the subway ride home:

The whole of time we gain or lose
And power enough to choose Brooklyn owes the charmer under me

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