Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Window

I've been wanting to share all week but for whatever reason I've been exhausted. I was thinking the other day that I didn't want the only memories I post to be those of trauma and pain. Last week when I adjusted my window, so that I could get more air while I sleep, I was flooded by a wonderful image of my cousin and I looking out of my Aunt's 6th floor window on 135th Street. I guess we had to be somewhere around 10 & 12 because we were old enough that her little brother was born but young enough to find joy in something so simple as looking at the wonderful skyline of downtown Manhattan. The Empire State Building and the World Trade Center lit the night sky but seemed close enough that we used to reach our hands through the child safety bars to try to touch them. We used to play this game where we would both choose a side and count the cars that came down each side of the street, the winner being the one who counted the most. That was our late night game that we would sometimes fall asleep while playing (honestly my cousin always fell asleep first). Things seemed so simple at moments like this.

If my memory serves correctly, it had to be summertime because there was no school, I was not on Bradhurst Avenue and we were always playing like there was no care in the world. Not every season of my young life was hurt filled. As I got older and would still spend some summers at my Aunt's, or when I got older and was between places to call home, I recall always sitting in that same window finding solace in the breeze. Funny how everywhere I've gone the breeze has always been my comfort; the way it covers my body like a silk sheet and carries all scents into my nostrils while strengthening/energizing me like spinach does Popeye. I remember lying on my back with my head out of the window staring at the stars instead of the sidewalk. I would secretly wish to be rescued because I kept thinking life wasn't supposed to hurt like it did. As I look back that window was a sacred place. It's where I wondered, played, observed and prayed. It's where I started most of my dreaming. Funny how small things leave such a beautiful mark.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I was mad at my blog. Sounds weird doesn't it? Mad at something I intentionally created, that was born directly from what's inside of me. I reread my writings to date and realized why it was always difficult for me to share my previous writings or even be honest about my past. The word "Honest" sounds weird too considering I wouldn't or couldn't even recall most of my past. So yeah, the floodgates are now cracked and my mind is becoming an infestation of visions mushed together like someone keeps flicking the remote of the HDTV with an endless selection of channels. Yep, I know they are flashbacks and not all of them are clear yet but I'm getting glimpses of situations I had thought I must've read about or just made up. It's very disturbing to really accept that my mind, which was protecting me, is now causing me pain. I'm sure these things must be revealed and every defense mechanism will eventually become a problem but this is just a bit much.

So I was sitting on the subway today and this woman gets on right as the doors are closing. I look up and I'm suddenly around 9 years old, standing in the dimly lit "living room" of this, what could have been beautiful, brownstone. I'm supposed to be on my way to the store with the food stamp booklet but I'm waiting for the list. As she's writing and breathing extremely heavy in that way she did, she begins to slow down, then the pen stops mid-word and her head begins to bow slowly. She's nodding off again. I was standing there as usual, clenched hands trying to make natural sounding noises like clearing my throat so that she would wake up. If I walked away I would get in trouble because it was considered disrespectful to walk away from an adult before they were through with you. I stood there for what seemed like hours listening to the unnatural rattling of the one lung she had straining to support a heroine/methadone riddled body. That poor lung must've been working like a slave cuz it got no benefits being in that body. Since she was nodding I figured it was the methadone. How did I know this at such a young age?...well because I noticed some patterns. When she would come back to the house from "the program", she'd be a bit weirder than usual. I remember the first time I found the needles clearly hidden in my top dresser draw. There was a syringe with an old looking rubber balloon on the top, a long rubber cord and some other things I can't describe. I later found out they were called their "works" or the kit they used to shoot up. There would be times when she would be baking a cake and be so on and engaged that I was concerned about all the body twisting and jerking but then there was these times like this one where I stood still, trying not to be seen or disrespectful and call out her name but desperately wanting to move, for her to wake up and for me to get out of the door or maybe just disappear. I learned how to shut down my body in those moments and to become numb. I did this so if I got tired of standing still I could shut it off, if I got fidgety I'd hold it in, and if I had to pee I would wait and hold it for as long as it took. I guess this was my mind already starting to become familiar with disassociation.

So the woman on the train eventually sits next to me, just my luck, and starts rummaging thru her bag non-stop. She's in the fidgety mode right before the nodding starts. Sure enough her head starts going down and she leans to her left, towards me. As I squeeze my body against the cold steel of the seat barrier next to the door I kept saying to myself that I was going to have three huge marks on my side. I was pressed against the poles so hard that I was spilling out of the other side. The lady eventually jumped up and started rummaging again and I realized I was holding my breath so I exhaled. I ask myself now why didn't I just get up and go to another seat or change cars but it was just like the living room…I was held captive by that nod. I was paralyzed until I was acknowledged again. The drug came first and then someone along the line I did.

So yeah, back to mad at my blog. I guess this recall phase of my treatment isn't going to be pleasant at all. Being transported back in time almost 30 years can be debilitating. I suppose an average person would have just gotten up from their seat or may not even have noticed that the woman on the train had a heroine/methadone issue. Guess I will never be considered average.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A "Shondah"

A “Shondah”, that’s what she called it when I shared what I had recalled earlier this week. The flashback that was so vivid that I fought to keep my eyes open for fear it was real; what I had remembered about living in that house. It happened when I laid my head on my pillow this past, brisk Tuesday evening and inhaled what I thought would be a soothing breath. It took me straight to 47 Bradhurst Avenue. Me about 12 or 13 years old sitting on the 1st floor in the “main room” with my coat on feeling the chill on my neck again, the stench of the mildew, the odor of the person who occupied the bed next to the chair lying on sheets & blankets that rarely got washed. I was instantly transported to what must have been a Friday night because I was up later than usual. I heard his workers come in out of the cold and converge in the kitchen to get their money organized, re-up, smoke and talk shit before going back on the corner. It was the mid 80’s crack is what they were offering at their station. I waited for the sound of him coming in the door in the boisterous manner he did everything. He would come into the main room, mainly to make eye contact with me, but also to leave some “work” behind for the house to sell for the remainder of the night and the next day. Once most of his crew went back outside I would make my way to the bathroom, and wait for him to be alone. I recalled the anxiety, excitement and confusion I felt as I would meet him right by the front door, and we’d kiss and he’d fondle. There would sometimes be people walking by, coming in and out, but we were usually alone. Anyone who walked by and noticed my small preteen body suspiciously close to his early 20’s large frame (he was known as “Fat G”) would act as if all was normal. I thought it was.

The individuals I lived with would sometimes know I was out in the hallway with him but no one ever interfered. I thought it was love when I would sneak to his house the next day with the cab fare he had slipped me the night before; only after we finished “making out” in the hallway. I would spend between 2 and 3 hours at his house in Washington Heights; the location I interestingly could not remember for years until a couple of years ago when I drove down the block by accident and almost crashed because I was suddenly transported back to 19eighty something; being touched, explored, fucked, exploring things that I now know I really didn’t want to know yet. He would give me money every time I left his house but I thought it was because he loved me and cared for me. He knew they didn’t feed me much and my allowance from my mother and the “tip” money I made from running errands and cleaning up was menial. He “protected” me from the others who used to unpleasantly visit me at night. At least with him I enjoyed the time. I thought I did, I thought he was saving me.

Now, it’s called a “Shondah”…the confusion, helplessness, neglect, abuse that I experienced. The things I did to survive, I now find out other children didn’t have to do…what was allowed to happen a shame, a pity, an outright sin. I may not be Jewish but a Jewish woman gave it this name.

Comments to "Quo Vadis?" from FB