Monday, February 05, 2007

"A continuation of my whereabouts during and after The Bronx."

The Bronx to me, not knowing any better, was a place that provided many opportunities for personal growth. It is truly where I learned much resiliency and a good reality check even though I was not aware that it was happening. My Mother worked in a vegetable factory as a packer. She endured many years of working with ice to the point of crippling her hands with arthritis. She was gone very early and came home very late at night. This giving me a great opportunity to explore my independence and freedom from a watchful eye - which trust me I often needed, a watchful eye that is. My sister lived at home (she was 10 years older but certainly not wiser), and for the most part was in charge of my care. My sister hated this job more than she disliked me. Most of the time she disengaged herself from me (age 10) to go meet with her friends or boyfriends. This worked out very nicely for the two of us. The only time she took her charge of me seriously was when she needed to put me to child labor (i.e. ironing, doing dishes etc.).

During the times when I was left on my own I escaped into my world of books. I remember the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) van coming to the neighborhood. I believe that this RIF
program was designed to get children in lower income neighborhoods reading. This was my dream come true, since there was no nearby library and it gave me something else to do other than hang out with the kids on the block. Back then playing jacks, hopscotch, and Mod Squad (I played Julie the blond cop even though I had olive skin, dark hair and my English was still on the ESL level) and double dutch (something that I never perfected, well in all honesty I tripped so often I gave up) were the entertainment of choice. I feel sorry for the kids today who wouldn't know or recognize the value of playing these games or the joy of reading.

Reading was my escape, my hope and vision to all the possibilities of a world that was so much greater than my small world in The Bronx. I learned to desire, yearn, and envision through reading. Even now it is my favorite escape.

Years later, when I first married at the age of 24, I moved to the suburbs of Long Island. Never did I believe that I would be left with a longing for a place which I believed everyone left. I thought that The Bronx was just a stepping stone to a greater leap, yet, what I realized after many years on Long Island, was that the Bronx was the the great rock foundation of my journey. A place where I would return over and over again when I needed to find my center and solid ground. It was the very foundation of who I was, who I am and who I will be tomorrow.

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