Friday, October 16, 2015

You can't go home again.

My boyhood friend Erik from Staten Island got married last weekend in New Jersey in a beautiful Catholic church and put on a sumptuous reception nearby at a spectacular mountaintop restaurant in upstate New York.  His bride, a divorcee, could get married in the Catholic church because her first marriage was a civil ceremony and so never occurred (a nullity); Protestants like myself find the convoluted rules governing Catholic membership and available services incomprehensible.

Afterwards I returned to Staten Island for a trip through nostalgia.  The street beside the house I lived in when I was twelve, which I remembered to be plenty big enough for our numerous games of touch football and kick the can, seemed too narrow to be suitable for such activities to an adult eye.

The garage to that house with its simple one-level rental unit above it (the third story was a mere loft used as an attic) was sold off separately later as a carriage house and the property was separated.  I spoke with the papergirl delivering the Sunday Staten Island Advance and she filled me in on many of the folks I knew in childhood, who still had an association with the neighborhood.

For instance, the boy next door who was exactly my age and wanted to be a priest grew up to be a real estate agent, always lived at home, inherited the house and now lived there alone as a recluse with major health issues starting with "bad teeth," and the fireman on the block, a friend of my dad, had passed on recently and his widow lived on in their home with their son, a friend of my brother, who had never left the house and worked for the post office.  I eschewed knocking on any doors in the old neighborhood although apparently, half a century later, I would have known several of the people who answered.

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