Thursday, May 5, 2011

Live, Love, Laugh...

On my desk sits something I find myself reading frequently.:

Remember the big
picture and don't let the
details overwhelm it.
~ Thomas Kinkade

If time travel was possible, do you think you would use it?  Go back and fix something in the past.  Maybe right a wrong.  Wonder, if given the chance,  would.I?   Maybe I would; to glance back to when I was a young girl, to the days of sitting on my grandparents front lawn.. where the breeze brushed our skin, and the sunlight would touch my face.  

This is where I use to live.  Tiebout Ave in Bronx, New York.  My father was the Super for an apartment Complex on Tiebout Avenue.  When I say, we walked to school; we did just that.  Even in the winter snow.  I remember climbing down these stairs, man there were alot of them, to get to my school...PS 85

In the 70's, as a family we visited my grandparents in Florida.  My father loved the green grass and open spaces,  before we knew it, Florida became the place we called home.  We made neighborhood friends quickly.  Taught the kids how to play stick ball.  We learned about feeding chickens and cows.. I mostly ran from them to be honest.  Having a yard was nice, in the Big Apple; we would use the side of  buildings to play Hand ball.  There was a wreck room in our basement that held any and all toys, and a pool table room.  The pool table did not make the trip from New York to Florida.  We would ride the elevator up and down, time and time again..  Use boxes to slide down the stairwell, play Tag, Red Light Green Light, and Mother May I.  

My New York, Bronx School ~ PS 85

Things like Cutting the Grass, Raking Leaves, and Ant Hills always followed a ... Huh?  The Subway in Florida was on the level with the cars, and I remember thinking; it was no wonder there were so many accidents with trains. That wasn't even an issue in the town of Riverview, because there were no subways.  No Taxi's either.  And there wasn't a public bus stop anywhere around.  I couldn't imagine how the kids got into town.  In the Big Apple, people just walked the blocks need to get from point A to point B.  I use to love walking to PS 85, down the steps that felt like walking out a castle, at the bottom was a candy store.. just across the street.  A brown paper bag could be filled with merely chump change.  It was great.  

This is where we moved to, Glen Hill Drive in  Riverview Florida.  Wide open spaces, flat land, and green grass.  It took a while to get use to, no traffic noise.  Very Sunny, and hot, and people used their car more often then we had to in New York.  

The School was not around the corner, and no one opened the johnny pump during the hot weekends.  I did make some wonderful friends though.  From Middle School right through graduation I had the same friends.  Day in and day out we were all in contact with one another,  you couldn't find a better group of people.  I remember the names of them all, seeing them in my mind as I did back then; young kids.  My parents were pretty strict, there were no boy friends allowed, until we were old enough to find a suitor for marriage.  No exceptions.  The boys learned about property care, repairs on the home, and fixing the car; my brother Mark was better at it them my brother Fred; but they both had to learn.  The girls learned how to keep the house, care for our younger sister, and cook.  I didn't pay very much attention on the cooking stuff.  There wasn't any fun in it. 

I clearly remember the kids who lived across the street from us.  There was 4 boys and 2 girls in that household.  Two older boys lived in a trailer behind the main house, while the younger 4 siblings lived in the home with their parents.  Amy and Donnie were the girls name and Paul and Jessie were their brothers, I never really met the older brothers until much later.  Unlike some of our other friends in the neighbor hood, Paul sticks out the most because, he would see my father working on the car and walk over to help.  When my brothers would be cutting the grass; Paul would lend a hand.  When just sitting outside enjoying the air; as I still love to do today, Paul would walk over and just sit with me.  So many times I remember peeking out a window,  just to watch him.  If I recall correctly, my father once told him that his girls were not allowed to have boy friends, and Paul stated he already knew and understood that.  That didn't stop him from coming around.  It was refreshing, in my eyes, I knew Paul was going to be a Gentleman.  As a young girl, I visioned him as a Knight, speaking proper to my parents and helpful to my father.

I looked forward to the visits he made; the way he taught me and my younger sister about tadpoles,  I had never heard such a thing, yet I was intrigued; how did this odd shaped thing turn into a frog?  Neither were seen on the sidewalks of the Big Apple.  It was Paul who taught Gladys and myself how to catch them.  How to care for them; and how to watch them grow.  When I first seen Paul and his sister Amy climb a tree, my mouth dropped open and right then, I had to learn how to do it as well.  Paul and Amy helped with busing knowledge, and Paul introduced me to the new school.  Lunch was loud, a bunch of bustling children everywhere intertwined with each other; like a thick over grown forest.   Paul would find me sitting at a table.  

Over the years, and as time moved forward, my father and mother purchased property on the next street over.  Our days were fulled with clearing the new property; but Paul would show up and help us.  Before to long our house was moved to the new property, and then as time went on the visits from Paul came less and less.  I missed the days of just sitting in the breeze enjoying the sunlight with Paul.  When my father passed away, I remember Paul as well as other friends, coming to the aid of us kids.  Lending a hand of support.  Until distance once again set in as we entered high school, till time drifted us apart.   When I began to date; my first boy friend was during my high school years and it wasn't Paul; often I found myself searching for Paul during lunch.  As the hallways of East Bay filled up with students changing classes.  During school assemblies.  When our paths would cross, it was simple contact; a quite exchange of pleasantries, a nod as we passed one another going to class.  My high school boy friend felt threatened by Paul, as most young girls and boys do of one another; and the gap between Paul and myself grew. 

In my last year of high school, a few of my friends {Marie, Vesta,} got together and wanted to take a group picture then have it added to our last yearbook; for the 1982/83 school year.  We needs as many people as possible, in order to bring the price down enough where everyone could afford it.  We each agreed to ask a personal friend to join us for the picture.. I asked Paul.  It was important to me for him to be in the last photo of the school year, one where we would be pictured together; even if as a group.  This move made things difficult for me later on that year with my then boy friend, but is was so worth it in the long run. 

I had forgotten all about the photo; but never about Paul; one day I received a request from an old teacher on a social network.  This teacher sent me a copy of the picture.  There I was with my then boy friend behind me, and Paul standing next to him.  Memories flooded back like a rushing river.  Through the union of Boy friend to Husband, birth of my daughter and moving into the same neighbor hood where I grew up {Glen Hill Drive} thoughts of what became of Paul, often came to mind.  There were a few times we ran into each other and it was always simple polite interaction.  The same young boy I remembered long ago would stand before me.  The Knight I pictured years ago, stood proudly in his eyes.  Time in the old neighborhood seemed all to  brief, and the years flew caution into the wind.  

I lived, loved, and laughed as any other.  From a young bride to single mother of three, was only one title I carried with me.  On the drive to visit with my mother, and let the children run and play where I grew up, I would first take them to the place where it all began.  My grand parents place on Glen Hill Drive.  So many times I found myself just sitting in front of what once was their home, peering over across the street and wondering what had become of Paul.  For a few years I moved back into my mothers house, to the property she and my father purchased long ago; working and assisting her in the care of my grand mother.  My own three children were grown now, and starting families of their own.  

During the times of reflection, I would take a quite drive to the next street over.. park along Sweet Fern Drive {the property where Paul once lived} and remember the simpler times; Climbing trees.  Tadpole and frog hunting.  Sitting in the breeze enjoying the sun.  Stick Ball at the dead end.  In front of that house, is where we gathered to meet the morning bus headed to school and where we parted ways in the late afternoon.  Like a movie that played in my mid....  The smile and laughter of a young boy,  his feathered tussled  blondish hair with a hint of strawberry in it;  would appear; and short glances were exchanged between him and the brown hair girl; with a shy smile ~  she would turn her head away from him.

I am sitting front row and far left ... behind me in the hat, was my high school boy friend.. behind him and slightly left, is Paul.

When I look upon this photo, now some 29 years later, the images replay in my mind.  It was only two and half short years ago when I paid my last visit to corner of Glen Hill and Sweet Fern Drive; on the night before I left the state of Florida.  Still wondering, what had become of Paul.  

I was so grateful for the picture and even more for the flooded memories, that one day while on a social network I received a pop up chat message.  Frozen in my chair, I sat looking at the name before me, Paul McLaughlin, as my mouth laid slightly open. Time seemed to stand still, as the box with his words waited on my computer monitor.  

Until the early morning hours of the next day,  we chatted back and forth.  I haven't laughed that hard or that long in what seem to be ~ forever.  Would it be possible to catch up on 29 years in a single night?  I learned that Paul never left the area, and though he no longer lived on the property or in the house where he grew up.. he had purchased the home next door to what once was my grandparents home.  I could not understand how, only a street between the both of us and for years we never seen each other once. He never seen me parked next to the property where he grew up, or sitting in my car while parked in front of my grandparents old house.  Must have been in the stars, Paul wrote.  

Neither of us wanted the moment to end, but as with all things that begin, they to must end.  Laying in bed, as my heavy eyes began to close... I was taken back to the days were we sat on my grand parents front lawn, enjoying the breeze as the sunlight touch my face.

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