Tuesday, October 27, 2009
When We Reminisce . . .
Today was the first time, in many years, that I rode the subway. My journey began in Greenwich Village, West 4th Street, where I boarded the D train northbound to the Bronx. I began thinking about the times I rode this same train, but in reverse, to my grandmother's house on 96th Street and Central Park West or to the Museum of Natural History on 81st Street with my 5th grade class. These memories were very positive and brought that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when reminiscing of good times.
The train moved on from 59th Street and went express to 125th Street in Harlem. I remembered the crowded platforms of yesterday. There were also the blaring radios that crooned smooth R & B music or poetically profound Rap songs. Girls wore "door knocker" earrings in those days with bright red lipstick, stone or acid washed jeans and asymmetrical hairstyles. Those who were into techno, grunge and alternative music were ensconced in black. Some individuals danced on the train platforms to the tunes of Stevie B, Noel, Cynthia and Johnny O. Free-style dance music was all the rage.
The train then by-passed 135th Street. This is where A. Philip Randolph Campus High School is located. I call it "my castle on the hill." Years ago, and I will not mention how many, this was my home. My friends and this school were my safe haven from my hellish home-life. I had stopped getting off at this stop because one had to walk through a very dark park with a never ending staircase. I had my necklace snatched by a crackhead and decided that I would no longer place myself in that type of danger ever again.
The D train pulled into 145th Street. I remember walking ten blocks to my high school every morning. My friends and I would all meet up, with precise timing, and accompany one another on our long arduous journey through the streets of Harlem. We walked from St. Nicholas to Convent Ave and then on to 135th Street. It didn't matter if it rained or snowed, we trekked through the urban jungle all in the name of education. Okay, maybe not education but definitely for social interactions. I no longer keep in contact with many of my friends. The only regret I have is not keeping in contact with Rodney Robinson. He is that friend that had your back in good times and bad. He moved to California about 18 years ago. I have not heard from him since.
When the D train pulled into 167th Street, my stomach began to knot. This is where my story begins. This is my birthplace, my roots and my "hood." This is where as a child and a teenager I dealt with my father's alcoholism, family drug abuse, child abuse, my mother's schizophrenia, the parental neglect of my siblings and suicide watches. I was the observer, care-taker and the only one with any ambition. There were good times also but these were overshadowed by my family's flaws.
The train moved out of the station and I immediately began to breathe easier. Is it any wonder why I can't go back to the Bronx? To any other person, it's just a train ride. However, for me, it was an emotional roller coaster of memories.