I live in the past and can’t escape it. For half my life I didn’t want to. I embraced growing up in New York, in the Bronx. It was somewhere that made promises, the big early 50’s Promise that anything was possible. The energy was palpable. I couldn’t wait to get out of bed and see what the day would bring. It was a promise to wake to and with, especially on Saturdays. I thought it was the only place to come from (not that I had a choice or the imagination). I had a sense of ownership about it. It gave me an identity. I took it with me wherever I went. Now I see it insulated me from reality, from living. It was a place to hole up and watch television, even with a 14-inch screen. What once offered authenticity now feels and entrapment, a limitation.
I have walked the old neighbourhood. Not just in my mind but on the concrete, passed the old street signs and the once new and now blackish art deco buildings. Soot ages them. Geography does remain. The hills, undisguised by the buildings, still go up and down. But no sense of belonging; the newspaper seller at the top of the steps to the subway is gone, where I bought the Post and its headline The War is Over and rushed it, like a newsboy to my parents. (That’s the Korean War if you are wondering. We’ve had so many.)
This Past went on until I was 9 and we moved to the Jersey Shore, an all-American place, for a couple of years. It felt like Leave It to Beaver. Evert day we pledged allegiance to the United States of America and the one nation for which it stands and. I believe we also said the Lord’s Prayer very day. I played spin the bottle and kissed a girl. That was a thrill. It was winter and we broke into a bathing cabin on the lonely beach. My first erotic memory.