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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FOREIGN IN A FAMILIAR PLACE


Recently I returned to my old street and the house where I lived as a young man with my parents. It was only like yesterday that it seemed the family was moving into the place Dad had built. I remember an old neighbor from the old neighborhood we were moving from helping us to move in, and the modern electric stove with the push buttons for each burner in a box on the stove top, and the neighbor thinking it was an inter-com.

I remember one of the last days too, the sense of how the house had gotten so old, over 50 years later. During those 50 some odd years, the building always seemed brand new to me, and yet it needed work.

I saw workmen everywhere, working on renovating the house, with new windows, and something being done to the garage, what I don’t know. There was even work in the back yard where the new cesspool was installed.

I rode down the street toward the train station that really wasn’t much but a dirt road with a lean to for a station and the word BELLPORT on a sign next to the tracks. It was where I walked every morning and returned every evening from first college and then work as a young designer. I tried to picture myself walking once more, but nothing seemed the same or at least familiar along the route.

Funny how your memory paints the picture and how stark the reality is when you revisit your old homestead. But I think I’ll stick with my memories and be it sweetened with time than to discuss what doesn’t feel right or seem the same. After all, as someone recently put it: “I am looking for not the place, but my childhood memory!”

Two guys are driving down 5th Avenue in Manhattan when they come up to a red light. The driver floors the gas pedal and they go zooming past the red light. His friend looks at him and says: "Hey, you just went through a red light." The driver says: "Don't worry about it. My brother does it all the time."

 So they keep driving and they come to a second red light. The guy driving floors the gas pedal and zooms past another red light. His friend is pretty mad, looks at him and says, "Hey man, you just went through another red light. What the heck are you doing?" The guy driver tells his friend, "Don't worry about it. My brother does that all the time."

 They come to a third red light and once again the driver floors the gas, zooming past the red light. His friend starts screaming at him, "What the heck? You're going to get us killed! Pull over and let me out." The driver screams back at him, "I'm telling you: don't worry about it. My brother, he does it all the time."

So they keep driving and they come to a green light. The driver slams on the brakes. His friend looks at him and says, "Are you out of your mind? What the heck is wrong with you? You go flying past three red lights, almost getting us killed, and then you slam on the brakes when you have a green light?" The driver looks at his friend and says, "I had to stop; my brother might have been coming."

 



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