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.


  1. Good job very well written. It's good to reflect but even better to move on with positivity.

  2. Wow! That hit me right between the shoulder blades and straight through to my heart literally aches reading this! I started here. Now I have to go back and read the rest.

    Amazing! You write with incredible visual and emotional clarity.

  3. Thank you so much Julie...I appreciate your feedback and I'm glad the memory moved you. I love that you said there is "visual and emotional clarity" as I just want to convey my experiences in a way where others who have gone thru similar things will identify.

  4. @Denise thank you and you are absolutely right!

  5. From my Cousin Linda: I finally read your blog, I was very pleased to hear you share. I'm responding on yahoo, because fb kicked me out for some reason when I tried to post my comment. Anyhoo, "Pain shared is pain lessened" the more u talk about or write about these experiences, u get it out of your head, and eventually it wont' take up so much space in your head. You have to fight to be happy, make yourself smile and laugh and giggle, search for what makes u feel good. You are a good person, that incured bad things u are not the bad things. You have the world at your feet right now,know that u can get on with your life , look for the positive, the light. You have a lot of people who love u, and care about u, relish in the love. I will continue to read your blog.
    Love u

  6. A.Q. Blackwood (FB)February 26, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    A.q. Blackwood: There are those who have the courage to fight for others, you are learning to fight for yourself with a pen as your sword...I am so proud of you, buttabean! :D

  7. Julius Christian: Hey Rachel Love You Just read the blog.....
    February 9 at 4:33pm #
    Powerful- Rachel (Your blog)
    February 9 at 4:41pm

  8. Just read it a few minutes ago. I like it and see the light from the dark in it.
    February 9 at 12:36am

  9. Teresa Mora-Rojas: Wow Rachel, I am so impressed with your writing. Very powerful, it really moved me and took me there. God bless you my friend, always remember that what did not kill us only makes us stronger. Love you and am so happy we have all reconnected, xo.
    February 9 at 10:45am

  10. Ann Marie Plantamura: I love reading your blogs. Your words bring tears to my eyes. You are an incredibly strong person. You are definitely suppose to be here. God had a plan for you, and I believe it was to help others through your words.
    February 7 at 1:30am


Thank you for taking the time to journey with me.