Beginnings and Endings

Don

It’s hot. It’s only May 25 and it already feels like mid-summer in Houston. We get six decent months here and six months where it’s just, well, hot.

I’m sitting in the living room watching a playoff hockey game that I really don’t care about. The Rangers are out , so who cares, right?

Rhonda has fallen asleep in her chair as it’s late and she gets up so early. My beautiful cat, Owen , who came into my life via my son, Anthony does not seem at all interested in the hockey game. He stares at me from across the room. How can he not like hockey?

This year is going so damned fast. Another birthday is about here. How did I get to this age? I used to think 40 was old. Now? 40 sounds really good.

Whenever I reflect on the passing of time , I think about my Brother , Robert. I always called him Rob. He lives in Pa. I’m in Texas and he’s in Pa…. How did that happen?

It’s been so long  since I have seen him…. So long that I can’t even remember how long; just long . Too long. Why have I let so much time pass since our last time together ? Perhaps, as in so many other things, we feel that we have plenty of time. We’ll get together when the time is right and things fall in place . But, that has not happened as yet, and here I sit, wondering ;exactly how much more time do we really have? Not to sound morose, but it is slipping away.

We were so close growing up in New York. We were best friends, more than just brothers. We meant the world to each other because , in all honesty, there really was no one else. Seems like only yesterday, and yet, an eternity. How did we get here? To this age; to this place .

The hockey game is fading in the background; the voice of the announcer growing distant. My mind is traveling back to another place and time. I surprise myself with a sigh as a small tear forms in the corner of my right eye.

I close my eyes and I’m drifting back. It’s all so clear , yet strangely distant. I hear city noises, I see cobblestone streets,

and I sigh again.

 

Robert

There is a saying that goes “Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.” I think I agree with that.

As I sit here on our deck of our home in the Philadelphia suburb of Devon, I still feel the pull of that city. But after all, it is home and you only get one of those each lifetime. All the rest are places you just happen to be living in.  But home, well, home is special. Even if you never go back and I haven’t been back in years, it’s still home.

To this day the biggest mistake I ever made, and I have made hundreds of them, was leaving New York city. I left in 1986, a lifetime ago and though I have been back many times since then, it’s not the same. We would go and visit, walk the streets, stop in at old haunts (mainly bars), take in the museums and the theater, go out to a great dinner and at the end of it, I would always feel I should be just walking back to my apartment and crash. Not a hotel room, but my apartment.  Every time. I expected to do that every time. That’s the power of home.

But just as you never really stop loving someone, you never far from  home; it’s just that it’s all in your heart and your head. And there are countless triggers that can bring you back: the sound of a Mets game on the radio (yes I still listen to the radio), the smell of a Sabretts hotdog, the whiff of a subway tunnel as the train whooshes through.

In a second I am back on 12th street, or in Chelsea, or Brooklyn; the places I lived there. I can see it as if I were there even though I am remembering things long since changed. That city waits for no one. But the good thing is, last I checked the subways were still running, the Mets were still playing (and now they were winning) and you could still get a Sabretts from a street vendor, though it probably costs a lot more than fifty cents.

And the streets themselves; believe it or not there are still some streets that are made of cobblestone.

Somehow, they like me have survived.

 

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