Just a glass of water for me. Been walking for a year, finally made it back here...a glass of water would be nice.
Where you hail from, is it Flatbush or Sheepshead Bay? Round here we follow the parkway to the ocean where the amusement park sits... Silently these days... No more Warriors wandering, they are all moved away, too old to come out and play.
Amoreena is in the cornfields, while Sonny and Sal try and break the bank.
Sly and the Fonz they are still the Lord's of Flatbush, while a tree grows in Prospect Park. The F train rumbles, upon the El as Freddy takes notes only to squander the words in an empty theater.
Winter is almost here and I wonder where Thanksgiving went. Time doesn't fly it truly soars and I can't get out of this place if I cannot find the key to the door...
It's poetic, sometimes pathetic, the words that are alive in digitalization accompanied by photos that are doctored by the writer.
If you cannot understand them, then do not be critical. Leave it to the ones who can comprehend the letters that are congregated into words put in place by the author.
It's an aggregation of emotional rollercoasters... Just like the one down the ocean parkway...
#Brooklyn #movies #writer #author #emptytheaters #slystallone #fonzie #alpacino #johncazale #amoreena #warriors #time #running #out
Making the world a little better
1. Be grateful for each and every breath you take... It's a blessing and it's a gift of time. Never take time for granted and always embrace The gift of Life.
2. Let go of hatred of others simply because they are different than you are in any which way.
3. Respect everyone you meet. Each and every person is embroiled in countless inner conflicts, pressures and heartbreak. Be mindful that they can use a smile, friend or someone to lean on.
4. Love fully and never take it for granted.
5. Everyone has their own opinion of what is right and what is wrong. Listen to them with an open mind, they may have a point or they may not. Give each person the benefit of the doubt and never judge them blindly.
6. Spend time with yourself without any expectations.
7. Spend time with others without any expectations.
8. Right now? This moment? It will pass. So learn from it, grow from it and always remember how far you have come.
9. You have achieved so much! Remember this in the future when everything is behind you and you have become a champion.
10. Make yourself laugh.
11. Smile at others, say thank you, hold the door for them and allow others to go ahead of you if they are impatient. You never know what they are going through and is it really worth getting aggravated?
12. Sing! Dance! Create! How you want to. Never base your desires on what others have or what society tells you what you must be, have or act. Express yourself!
13. Be unique!
14. Look into people's eyes, it's amazing what you can see through them.
15. Stay home. Go out. Sleep in. Wake up early to watch the day begin.
16. Be grateful for each taste, feeling and emotion.
17. Express what YOU need and what YOU want.There is always Someone listening who cares and has the power to provide for you. Everything will come in it's time
18. Remember the ones who have raised you. Parents, family members and friends. Be grateful and express that gratitude.
19. Relax and be yourself, no one can ever take that away from you.
20. Always do for others what you want done for you.
#rulesinlife #howtobeatpeace #gratitude #acceptance #love #betrue #beunique #relax
The Thing About Life
The thing about life... you are on an ever moving platform and although you can see behind, you can never go back and change what has been done, what has not been done, what you have done, what you have not done and so many things that could've been.
All you really can do is look at where you are now and envision how you want to be in the future.
The world throws a lot of stuff towards you that you truly never foresaw... You can't control that, but you must learn how to react to that stuff. Otherwise you'll be ten, twenty years ahead in time and saddled with more regrets.
Remember you cannot control how the world works, but you must control how you respond to it. That is the power you possess that no one can ever take away from you.
Have a good weekend
Freddy S. Zalta 12/6/2019
#life #world #response #causeandeffect #philosophy #frankl #kierkegaard #friday #shabbatshalom #freddyzalta #zalta
Sometimes the hits come softer but the hurt lingers longer.
Life is a cabaret of millions of emotions, songs and dance targeted to impress the strangers. Best friends are forgotten, promises are broken and sacred vows ignored.
Hearts can be broken in so many ways, scars are made and are here to stay.
I see her eyes with poetry in shades of brown, black and red.
She walks away, door is closed, no words are said.
Some times endings come disguised as greetings.
Sometimes...I think about her and I'm sure i am forgotten.
But perhaps a tune, an aroma or a simple phrase can bring her a memory of me .... I hope you are happy, I hope you are living free. But I do hope you smile if you ever, when you ever, think about me.
#poetsdaily #poetryisnotdead #igwrites
#lovetowrite #poems #bookcommunity
Balcony overlooking the Past
Perilous dance-to music played on a dangerous piano accompanied with some strings and a statuesque pretend blonde singer breathing deeply. Exhaling words written about love from 1933. You know the song, you know it well…
It was just a moment, just one moment… How can such a short period of time have a life lasting effect? Synchronised living, emotions and graduations, in synchronization… How can I feel as you feel when we have not looked into each other’s eyes since that night on the balcony overlooking the Old City. I have loved and been loved since you, yet the memory of you flashes in front of me like a speeding train; so close yet impossible to grasp…
Record player playing a song from 1983 or so, Old City sounds, in my mind, like the prayers from the balconies from another century, in an ancient language, lost and forgotten by all but the chosen few. Aromas of bread baking and coffee brewing, voices chanting, chanting, your hand in mine, lips against mine, heart upon my heart… Lost in time… Forever scarred and bruised… In a small Cafe off of King George or something like that. I still remember your taste… Your perfume upon my shirt, the one you wore that evening in the tent… Nomads wandering in circles, bumping into ghosts from ancient civilizations, scrolls in a cave and broken hearts on the beach.
I question my sense of my past; are my memories true or are those visions simply a movie I watched once long ago? A book read or a song sang? I tend to romanticize what has been and what cannot be again… Yet still I wonder about the lost dreams of my childhood – did I truly yearn for them or was it just another dream I had as I slept, in a seemingly sleepless night, in a moonless summer sky, where the stars do not appear and the moon is unseen.
The sounds of the river outside my window, rushing unceasingly towards the sea only to be swallowed up and diluted in a crowd of strangers who never truly see you for who you are, where you came from and how difficult the journey was. Can they ever comprehend? Can I ever grasp the idea that each of those strangers has a past they had to overcome as well?
In the winter’s cold – the dreary skies can cast an ominous sense of a storm comin’ your way. You are cast aside for the groups of travelers who pass on by searching for the perfect spot to take a picture. Streets empty quickly as the dusk comes upon the city at just before 5 or so – it’s a lonesome visual – the empty streets and the cold dreary skies.
The imaginative ways that the poet excavates emotional turmoil only proves the point that the poet, unknowingly, is his own worst enemy. Creative lightning and thunder bursting in bursts of genius through the mid-summer days and nights, when one should be content, should be at peace – suddenly a leaf falls from an oak tree and the poet is faced with an ache he felt a million years ago….blue skies turn into a dark islands of clouds congregating, thunder is heard in the distance and ones inner dogs are startled and awakened – something is happening and you have absolutely no idea what it is…
So you grab a pen and you use a napkin – you express your emotions and suddenly it’s all too clear…
#past #balcony #love #self #lost
Out of Breath
You run out of breath. When your mind tells you to run but your heart just isn't in it…
Logic and need dictate my day and my soul cries out at night
At what point do we listen to the memes and the screams to live as we choose, to “do what we love?"
At what point does our heart give in to what our soul desires?
I've been living in this soulless stratosphere, a man who thrives off of souls and healing hearts. Been failing and falling all along. Self sabotage? Poor decisions and extreme gravitational pulls towards the darkness. A pill cannot stop one from being sucked into the vortex, only action can.
But there are bills to pay and mouths to feed…
How much longer until this old heart breaks down again?
Time has been stuffed with false #optimism and spoon fed lies; willingly allowing consumption of the dosage that was prescribed to me.
You see, there is this vortex…
The old tale of selling one's soul… It happens every day. I know I have a soul but sometimes I feel I must've lost it in the flood, it went floating in a spin, down the drain, where people with false smiles and goods to sell, wear bright and shiny suits and say what is needed to say.
A shaken hand, an agreement, “take good care of my soul, sir.”
" Don't worry,” he smiles, "you won't need it where you are going. You won't need it if you want to live here. Amongst the trees and flowers, where gray and white are the only colors that you can see. Where music is stoic and the weather is always overcast with a chance of a shower. You'll be fine.” He winks and walks away laughing.
You sleep and you dream, your optimism has been strangled by too many doses of reality spiked with negativity.
You dream while you are awake and you know you can change the world.
The phone rings and you are consumed with cancerous thoughts.
Your heart beats and the night is coming on fast…
“Hold on," you whisper to yourself,”it's time to take back what never should have been given away “
#soldsoul #love #vortex #faith #punchintheface
Here Comes the Sun or Memories from a Coffee Shop in Coney Island
#Memories, #photographs, mind scenes refreshed and rewritten, edited, if you will, history redux to soothe us in the present.
The wind keeps blowing, can you sense me coming?
The sun keeps shining, can you feel my love?
The darkness still darkening the pulse inside your head. Can you remember my smile?
Lost, again, lost.
I held her hand, she shook free and walked away.
Was it something I didn't do?
Was it something I didn't say?
Lost fragments of an old treasure map whose treasure is the knowledge under some trees. In some garden, in Eden, or is it just me?
Snow blown cold, sand storms and raindrops keep falling on my head.
I want to speak but she is searching for something.
I want to embrace but she is holding her arms across her chest.
I need to love but I am lost on a stage filled with jest, the joke, the jokes, they are laughing at me. Can't you hear them?
The audience ain't fooled by the spoken words, it's all revealed once they've pulled out the sword.
From my heart, from my chest, from my soul.
Do you remember my smile? I haven't seen it in a while. Please say for me that I am not myself since it's been gone.
A clown performs and once the tent falls, goes back into his room. In the dark, with a cot and some memories in frames.
Living life one chuckle at a time, settling for that as the laughter has been lost in flames.
Big shoes, big hats, colorful clothing to mask so much betrayal.
You show no sympathy for the devil, a clown in disguise. You simply place a coin into his cup say good luck and walk away.
Stranger mists among the strangers who walk among us. We welcome them in with open arms, love has currency as does a smile and an open window.
Guitar strings plucked, piano strings out of luck once again.
Raise a glass to family, make a toast to friendship and take a bow at the end of the play.
An actor walks away, still in makeup and costume. The lines across his face tell a different story of lives played, lives stolen, love lost and heart frozen.
Just when you think you have it hard, you see someone who has it harder than you. Life is not fair and the judge can sometimes seem asleep, gavel in hand, casting judgments like words in the dark.
See me, free me - gather them years lost and put them in a basket for a picnic.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was no rain today?
Ah, those memories, photographs captured in the clouds above us. Music playing in the distance, right by the swings and the slides. I think it's Ricky Nelson singing about a garden party or perhaps it Don Mclean trying to stay alive.
Phone ringing in the distance, through a window, in a house just across the street. It's ringing and ringing and the aroma of something tasty in the oven.
Memories of life’s time’s that came and went - with the touch of her hand and a kiss goodbye. On the porch of our hotel room in Cleveland, a cold evening and no moon.
We whisper goodbye and then hello again.
I’d love to sit down with you and see how life has treated you; can you make that happen?
Scenes from an old coffee shop in Coney Island where we used to go...too much sugar in that small cup made your tongue taste sweeter than it should have. It must have been me, must have been my fault. I had no idea, I had no clue - I still have no idea and have no clue - but I can act the part and write the lines myself.
Pull the needle from the record, we’ve heard that song too many times.
Pull the string from the ceiling and let the light turn on.
Here comes the sun, here comes the #sun...
Forever a Stranger or Ramblings from a Disgruntled Dreamer
We enter into this world in an orgasmic explosion rudely introduced randomly to one another. We are sheltered, we are fed and we are encircled by warmth and flesh. A light suddenly appears and we are thrust into that light, whose effervescence, we soon will find, is not as consistent as promised. A pair of arms, a breast which we are too young to appreciate, a bed with bars and us, thoroughly lacking any voluntary motor functions.
Years pass and you find yourself in a chair, in a class, in a building with rules to destroy any sense of independence or unconventional thinking or behavior. You must conform. Some of us reject these rules and end up with labels such as “Bad kid” or “disrespectful.”
“There must be something wrong with him, he cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time. He doesn’t stop disrupting the class.”
I still cannot understand how I can be silent when a door has opened for a humorous (to me, at least) comment or being forced to listen to an ignorant rant.
At 8 years of age I was punished and sent to the principles office for making a comment about how God looks.
“I picture God looking like the weatherman on Eyewitness News, Tex Antoine.”
“You picture our Lord, our heavenly Father as a weatherman?” The Rabbi, standing over six feet tall and looking down on me as I sat at my desk.
“Yeah. He always knows how the weather is going to be. Only God knows the future, right?”
“How dare you.”
“You compare Hashem with an actor? A weatherman?”
“Is that wrong?”
“Go to Rabbi Pearl’s office now.” Rabbi Pearl was the principle.
“Because you are disrespectful and do not understand the holiness of God.”
He pulled me by my ear and led me to the door and closed it behind me. I walked to the principals office confused and in tears.
That was in 1974 – two years later Tex Antoine made a comment which got him fired from his job and exposed his less than Godly like choice in words.
In our most impressionable years we are forced to attend 7 or 8 hours straight, listening to lectures and biased opinion pieces about history, morality and God. We are told how to feel, how to act and how to speak. Blue is blue, red is red and black is black. You sit at the easel and you try to create your own color with shades of blue and red – mixing the colors in one dish – the ear is pulled again.
“Have you ever seen a blue rabbit? What are you doing mixing two colors? Now your brush will be confused.”
“My brush will be confused?”
“Don’t talk back to me.”
So you bounce the brush into a clear bowl of water until the colors are erased and you are told to pain the rabbit white. You dab the brush in green and you paint the rabbit green – because thats the color I choose to paint it. You state your case and it ends in an argument. The real reason you chose green was to piss off the teacher. You are 13 years old and tired of the rules. Tired of how they want everything to match and to make sense based on their own ideas.
“You are getting an ‘F’ on this and I want your parents both to sign it. Give me your phone number I am going to call your parents tonight.” So you forge the signature and you leave the phone off the hook all night hoping no one hears the blaring noise. The phone is placed back in its cradle several times when someone makes a call – but each time they hang up I go back and kick it off the cradle once again.
High School is another building with the same ideas of conformity. So I rebel and tell them, “Fuck off.” I get suspended and berated by my principle and my father. My mother talks to me and understands. There are a couple of teachers I am blessed with who help shape my persona and help me identify my gifts. I become an actor, orator, writer and a stand up comic.
College is not an option for me because I cannot be forced into compliance forever – the windows to the classroom throughout my incarceration in education facilities were always a tease to me of the freedom I could not taste. So I went to work.
All the while – from Kindergarten until then – I was obsessed by the female – with her soft hair and her soft skin. The lips which smile, frown or whisper words I could not, still cannot fully comprehend. The scent, the walk and the intelligence. The humor and the neck…the legs…
This distraction has plagued me, inspired me, hurt me and saved me throughout my life. This distraction has kept me imprisoned much like the womb, the bars of my crib and the school rules enforced by the stagnant unyielding ignorant adults.
This distraction will inspire me as well to act, sing, orate and write words of love, fear, failure and victory.
Oh the calamity one finds themselves in when 30 years have passed and you find yourself still imprisoned. Instead of teachers there are clients, bosses and family members. In place of the desk and chair there is the cubicle with the desk and chair.
Oh the pain you can feel when the bars are thickened with failure to excel. The death of a salesman becomes part of your inner turmoil and the will to be true to yourself are like the windows in the classroom – so vivid yet so unattainable. Dreams are remembered yet repressed for the need to be steeped in a reality of getting to work in order to earn the money for food, clothing, shelter and all that come along with that.
So the distractions seem like an escape – but her eyes they seem to have cooled off – perhaps too much failure to excel or to walk among the giants. The prison bars are my physical self, not enough walking and way too much talking.
Fifty one years have passed and the feeling of being a stranger in my home persists. Lost among the found, the wounded and the healed are strands from the past I will not, ever be able to partake in again. The parties where I stood aside, the crowded bars where I sat in a corner and the living rooms of friends where I became a wallflower.
I act to protect my inner sanctum where my true self is hidden somewhere beneath crumpled paper with words written, unread, unheard, unborn.
I orate to distract from the true voices and words that might escape me when my guard is down and the days end quickly.
I sing to cry and to express the opera within my heart.
I laugh and I try to bring humor to all who surround me, to protect them from the inner me which must be muted from all who can see or hear.
I am invisible to all and to myself, forever a stranger.
The Diner: The True Story about Brenda and Eddie (Based on the Billy Joel song, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant)
1981 Brenda and Eddie
The diner opened in the 1950’s and was owned and run by a family from Greece. The father was an honest man who wanted to open a restaurant so his family would always have something to eat. The diner had a name, “Patras” named after the city where the Drakos family came.
The jukebox was in the back left corner of the room – right next to the Men’s and Ladies bathrooms and adjacent to the two payphones. On the wall surrounding this area were black and whites of James Dean, The Marx Brothers, Elvis and Humphrey Bogart. In these pictures they were all young and in control, or so it seemed. Facing this wall was another wall with some more black and whites of Marilyn, Garbo, Kathrine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall. The Beatles were peeking out of a bus and Bob Dylan was wearing wayfarers and holding a cigarette.
There was a smoking section in that area, in the back of the long diner. There were always people by the phone booths, talking and looking through the songs on the jukebox as if the choices of songs would magically change before their eyes. The songs hadn’t been changed nor updated since the mid-seventies.
Eddie saw what he was looking for, dug into his pocket and pulled a quarter out and rolled it into the coin slot. Pressed “B52″ and stood aside.
He walked towards Brenda and put out his hand. She took it and smiled. The piano began and then the voice, “Wise man say, only fools rush in…” He twirled her and then got on one knee, opened up a small box and proposed to his girlfriend with a emerald shaped 2 carat ring. Somebody unplugged the jukebox and the lights went dim.
“Brenda, you are the -“
“No!” She ran into the girls bathroom followed by her friends, Karen, Daisy and Fran.
“What happened out there?” Daisy asked her.
“I do not want to get married. I …”
The door burst open.
“What happened? I thought that…girls please go out and leave us alone.”
“No its OK they can stay. Eddie I do not want to get married. I really like you a lot and I have fun hanging out but I am not ready to settle down. I don’t even know how to respond to this – why didn’t we speak about this before?”
“Well, I thought you loved me, not ‘liked’ me and we have spoken about living together and raising a family.”
“We have but not in a realistic right-away, way. It was just talk, right? We are both 19 years old, I am planning on going back to school this fall and I am not ready or I do not want to just end my life right now.”
“I didn’t know marrying me and starting a family is ending a life.”
“It is – its ending my first chapter of my life and I am not ready to close that out yet, Eddie. Maybe I do love you, I know I care about you and love being with you. But I need to see the world, to learn about the world and the history…to see history and to witness my ‘here, now and future.’ I am sorry, but I am leaving now…please don’t call me. I am sorry…”
“What was Eddie thinking?” She asked Daisy.
“Maybe that he loves you and wants to spend the rest of his life with you?”
“But we never even spoke seriously about that. He knows I am going to college in the fall and that I want to travel the world before…”
“Brenda and Eddie – we always thought you guys would last forever, like the song.”
“In the song they got divorced.”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t. Daisy would you mind clearing everyone out I want to be alone for a couple of minutes.”
“Everyone out – I just saw a mouse.” Daisy smiled. “It works all the time.”
Brenda was embarrassed to have to walk through everyone to get out of the diner. She was crying and realizing that possibly the first chapter of her life had just ended and that frightened her. She sat alone in the bathroom and she felt a strange sensation within – a sense of loss but combined with a sense of freedom. She looked around and noticed the window, pulled it open, climbed out and left the diner. Leaving her friends and Eddie behind her along with her chapter “one.”
She knew where she wanted to go first.
Brenda had been living in New Haven since she went to Yale back in 1981, the fall after Eddie proposed to her. Her family had moved to Long Island in 1984 so she had not been back to Brooklyn since then. She had married in 1988 to a Pediatric Surgeon and they settled into a large home in Greenwich. They had four children within a four year period which almost drove her mad. The first two were planned – but when the twins came along it was anything but expected.
“Do you have twins in your family?” Her obstetrician asked as he examined her.
“Yes, but I don’t see them often, they live in New York.” She answered.
“Um, well, look a little closer at this sonogram and tell me how many heart beats you see.”
“Do you mean?” She fainted on the spot. When the twins came into the world in August of 1992 she thought she had it all figured out. The two elder ones would be in Kindergarten and Pre-School and she would be with the twins. What she didn’t anticipate was having a major case of “Post Postpartum Depression.” But like everything in life time marches on and in the words of her mother, “Don’t worry dear, be patient, remember, this too shall pass.” It did pass – the good times and the hard times and before she knew it she was caught up in the moving hands of the clock.
The years passed by and the kids grew up too quickly. She found herself questioning what was left for her once the kids all left the house. She was at home one Saturday morning when she began to go through the mail from the past week. As she went through the pile of bills and magazines she came upon a letter from her High School. She opened it and saw it was an invitation to her 25th High School reunion. She sat down and remembered who she had left behind and wondered how she had let it all slip from her mind somehow. She had spoken with Daisy for a couple of years after she left but lost touch since then, not really feeling a void there. She had heard from her mother and her sisters some gossip here and there but they had left Brooklyn and not looked back as well. Besides for some older relatives there was nothing to draw them back there and they rarely ventured there besides for the occasional funeral or wedding.
Brenda was still as beautiful if not more so than she was back when she was 19. Despite the few pounds put on by the pregnancies she retained a two piece bikini figure. She lay in bed that night thinking about the past and the people she had left behind. It was when she was driving the next morning and Elvis came on the radio sing, “Cant help falling in love” that she knew she would be going to the reunion.
David was OK with her going to Brooklyn for the reunion, unfortunately he would not be able to attend with her since he was scheduled to give a seminar in Palm Springs that same weekend.
“Its OK David, I am used to it. Its either an emergency at three in the morning, an emergency surgery before our long weekend away, missed parties and missed dinners with friends.”
“You have been complaining about this for the past year, you never said a word prior to Samantha heading off to Berkeley. You are simply transferring your feelings from having an empty nest towards me. I can take it, I understand, but there are some things I cannot avoid. You didn’t seem to mind my job while living in this home, driving the BMW’s and wearing the jewelry you buy yourself.”
“I buy it for myself, David, doesn’t that sound kind of sad?”
“I have bought you gifts and I have provided for you and the children a life that has been without lacking anything.”
She caught herself, “I am sorry, you are right. I just need to do something for myself. Maybe find a better job, something more fulfilling. I love you and you have provided a life that has been without wanting and always having.”
“Come here,” He hugged her, “I love you and just another couple of years and I will be retiring and we can have all the time in the world. No more emergencies, last minute cancellations…just you and I, I promise.”
Some promises in life are made with the best intentions, some are made as a way to instill a sense of hope and faith about the future and some are made insincerely. This promise was made with only the best of intentions but like most promises about the future they are never fulfilled due to occurrences out of our control. Within six months Dr. David Salerno would be diagnosed with cancer that would take his life and render his promise unfulfilled.
Brooklyn May 12, 2006
She drove from her home in Connecticut straight to her Aunts house in Brooklyn. Her Aunt Frieda lived alone for the past year. She was relatively young, 62 years old, and had recently kicked her husband out of the house.
“He is a lazy good for nothing drunk.” She would say, with her own words slurring courtesy of her early evening Jack Daniels.
“You have been married for 30 years, now you decide you dont want to be married?”
“I do want to be married. I’ll let him back in a day or two. Then we will have the best sex. Its a game we play.”
“Oh! Ok, too much info Aunty. Where is the bathroom I need to spit out the throw up from my mouth.”
“Oh stop it. As if we dont have sex anymore. You should see these pictures we took with-“
“Thats ok – I need to get ready to leave.” She kissed her Aunt on the head and said, “Don’t ever change, I love you.”
The first party of the weekend was Friday evening – a dinner for the alumni and their families in the lunchroom of Kennedy High School. She walked the same route she used to walk when she would go to school. Some houses had changed and the people in the neighborhood as well.
As she passed by some familiar homes where she spent her childhood and teenage years scenes from her past raced in front of her.
Tommy the Italian boy who her father warned her against being friends with. He was her first kiss and that’s the porch where they sat that evening so many years ago that it seems like an old movie she once watched. All the details were fresh now – the rain had stopped and the streets were smoking. It had been over 100 degrees earlier that day and now the temperature had dropped to around eighty. The sounds of Brooklyn in the summer echoed throughout. Air Conditioners humming, sirens screaming, the voices of arguments and the old man who lived upstairs from Tommy, sitting by the window and listening to a baseball game on a transistor radio.
We sat on the stoop of his house and talked and talked for hours. Laughing and flirting…and then he kissed me and I felt his tongue swimming against my lips and then in my mouth. The taste of ashes and spearmint gum and a sense of excitement and fear all at once.
The sound of the Good Humor man coming around on his bicycle and the freezer connected. His white suit, hat, smile and bell sounding across the streets.
The building across the street with the opened windows and the ladies leaning out and conversing from one window to the next. Italian, Arabic and Irish accents and language. Looking at the windows now the lower floors have bars over them and the upper levels are pulled down.
The school loomed large with the steel-barred gates surrounding it as if a fortress. She wondered how many times these gates had been painted, how many generations of teenagers had passed through the doorway, up the stairs and into the school. The school was built in 1929 so it had been 85 years or so…yet it still seemed so new.
She passed through the open gates, walked up the stairs, saw visions of the groups who would hang outside. The druggies, the Goths, the geeks and the rest of the assortment of teenagers all in their own version of angst. The ghosts of Mary Bettelli, who died in 1986 in a car crash. She could see her standing there with a cigarette blowing smoke in the face of the school principle when he ordered her to stop smoking.
She thought about the faculty and wondered who was still alive, what had become of them and if they would be there.
Mr. Goldberg, the principle, he was around one hundred years old when she was in school and was an Orthodox Jew – one of the few in the school and the only one among the faculty.
There was the Guidance Councilor who was known to smoke weed with a select group of seniors until she was busted for selling to an undercover cop. She wondered if she would be there – Ms. Young was her name and she had the bohemian sort of look down pat back in 1977 when Brenda was a freshman.
Dr. Grubman and his white lab coat he wore all the time with a Hershey bar sticking out of this top pocket like a handkerchief. He was an innocent flirt who was not married at the age of 37 or something.
Her favorite, her English teacher Mrs. Ackerman. She had taught her the excitement that can jump from the old faded pages within crumbling books. About Scout Finch, Holden Caulfield, the Great Gatsby and the Old man Santiago. She told her to read Ayn Rand and whether she or anyone agreed with her philosophy was not important – the importance was to read each character and the descriptive emotional pulls which forced them to choose between right and wrong, right and left and yes or no.
She pulled the ten foot door opened and walked into a time machine and she was back in 1979…the place looked exactly how it did back then. Then she heard her crush, Andy Gibb, singing “Shadow Dancing.” She felt a sort of heavy feeling…
“Brenda?” A soft tap on her shoulder.
She turned to see Daisy. They hugged and tears formed in their eyes and they hugged again.
“How is Ted and the kids?” Brenda asked her.
“Ted is Ted – we are actually seperated right now.”
“Oh I am sorry…”
“No its ok, it was my decision. Whatever, the kids are amazing and guess what? I am a Grandma!” She took out her phone and showed her pictures.
“They are so beautiful. Your daughter looks just like you.”
“How about you Bren, how is David doing?”
“He is David – he is doing very good. The kids are all out of the house now and, well, lets speak tomorrow about all of this. What do you say we get a drink and just have fun?”
“Sounds good to me. You come to my house tomorrow morning and we’ll have some coffee.”
“OK, sounds great!”
Brenda and Daisy spoke as if they had not missed a day of seeing each other rather than the two friends who had not seen each other in 20 years. They walked into the gym arm in arm and walked right into Principal Goldberg.
As Brenda walked alone towards the restroom she recognized several faces, they seemed to have aged a lot. When she washed her hands and caught a glimpse of her image in the mirror above the sink. She half-expected to see herself at the age of 17 or so – when she saw her 43 year old face looking right back at her.
She had noticed the aging on Daisy and the other graduates – she saw the weight gain, the varicose veins, the over made-up faces caked with what they hoped would be reverse aging powder. She still saw herself as 18 years old, still looked at the world the same way only with a lot more knowledge. When she actually thought to herself that she is really 43 years old – it hit her for the first time.
As she walked out she, of course, walked literally right into Eddie. Of course she would, fate has a way of peeking itself in and out of peoples lives at the peek of their vulnerability.
“Excuse me.” He smiled, looked at her and then did a double take.
“I cannot believe it, you look, amazing. You haven’t aged at all.”
Brenda took it all in quickly; he had gained a little weight and his hair had receded a bit but he still had that youthful look to him and those dimples.
They actually had not seen or spoken to each other since that night in the diner. He had tried to contact her but she knew that once she heard from him she would be in trouble.
“Brenda, I would like to speak with you and get some closure on some things. Can we meet for lunch tomorrow? Don’t worry, I am not looking for anything from you – I just have some questions I believe I deserve answers for.”
“After all these years you need ‘closure’?”
“Ok…are you here with anyone?”
“No, I am here alone.”
“Lets get a drink.”
“You lead the way…”
“I have a better idea…go wait by the classroom over there – I will be right there.”
Brenda walked slowly into the classroom and was transported back to 1979. She could swear she saw Mrs. Ackerman standing by the desk with a smile and a knowing nod. The classroom was decorated with English Literature signs – pictures of authors, “Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Harper Lee and Arthur Miller.” Signs stating, “Readers wanted” and “After School Book Club.” The walls were painted with what seemed like 100 coats of paint. The floor were tiles of black and white and the desks had connecting chairs. The teacher’s desk was placed in the front of the room with a green chalkboard as the backdrop. She could see her teacher standing there.
She turned and saw Eddie with a bottle of wine and two glasses.
Eddie had gone into a big funk after she climbed out of his life that night at the diner. He had turned to stone for a while – literally closing himself up in his room for weeks until one day he felt OK. He wasn’t sure what it was but it was as if a cloud had lifted and he was able to feel again.
“The thing that hurt more than anything was this feeling of being rejected, like a groom left waiting at the altar, you know? Besides that I missed you and being without you took some getting used to.”
“I am sorry, I just knew that-“
“I am not looking for an apology – I just wanted to express my feelings to you.”
“I don’t know what to say other than ‘I am sorry.’ I knew that if I gave in to my emotions I would have married you and I would have regretted it no matter how happy you might have made me. I needed to go to Yale without any attachments – I needed to break free from Brooklyn, I needed to forge my own identity. I wasn’t ready to forever be ‘Brenda and Eddie.’ I needed to be Brenda.”
“Yeah, well, I can understand that now – I guess sometimes in life the only way selfless act is the selfish one.”
“How did it all turn out for you?” She asked him with soft tears in each eye.
“What do you mean by ‘all’? Do you mean my life? My life has been good. I graduated from Brooklyn College, got a job with an investment firm, made a shit load of money and then lost it all just as quick. I got married at 26, had three kids and got divorced at 34.”
“Sorry about that…”
“Its OK – I just got tired of pretending to want to be married out of loyalty or responsibility. I love her but I need more than she is able to give me emotionally and physically. I just didn’t want to be the ’Great Pretender.'”
“Yeah, well, I guess we all end up being Pretenders in order to just get through the day sometimes.”
“Or the years…”
She had been pretending for the past several years. Pretending to herself, convincing herself that she loved David and the life they had built. She pretended she was happy for the kids leaving the house – when in fact she was miserable about it. She was frozen from the emotionally and physically detached husband – he was a great man and did his best to make her happy. Sometimes, some people just are unaware how starved their loved ones are for the things they are either unable or choose not to share.
“We should get back to the dinner – I am glad we had this chance to speak.” Brenda said to him. She put her arms around him and whispered. “I am sorry…”
As they walked out of the classroom they were met by Daisy and some other classmates who embraced each other and exchanged updates on their lives. The dinner passed with toasts and reflections. Principle Goldberg spoke and made the first toast. He looked as he did 25 years ago – if that is possible.
“When I was your principle I was around your age now. I must have seemed ancient to you back then and now I stand before you, once again, 68 years old this time and welcoming you back home.”
Mrs. Ackerman walked into the room un-noticed and sat down alongside the Principal. When one student recognized her and then another – a wave of applause began and she stood up to acknowledge her students. Brenda thought to herself that she wasn’t only her favorite teacher – she obviously had a big effect on each of her students.
Brenda walked over to her and introduced herself to her.
“Hello Mrs. Ackerman, do you remember me, Brenda-“
“Of course I remember you. You haven’t changed, if anything you are even prettier than you were back then. How are you?”
“You look amazing and I am great. I am so happy to see you.” Brenda embraced her and began to cry.
She cried because she was given this opportunity to see the person who had the greatest influence in her life other than her mother. Her mother had died several years earlier and for some reason she had not allowed herself to grieve for her. But now it came out. “Sorry, I need to go now – I will see you tomorrow night, right?”
Brenda walked out the front doors and began to walk back to her Aunt’s house. She heard her name being called and turned around to see Eddie running towards her.
It’s a catastrophic misunderstanding between hope and despair. Tears well up while her heart is beating as she stares into his eyes so sincere and trusting. Just a photograph of a stranger she once knew, when hopes and dreams were the measure of a day.
A horse galloping and a bird flying across a canyon. Ominous sounds emanate from the valley once devoid of any wild life.
A schoolyard, a city Street and a empty Subway car filled with voices from the past, the future.
A cliff, a lake, divers and some rays of sunshine peeking through the blinders, in a cabin, in the shadows, where no cars drive and no planes fly. Campfire is the electricity, water is from the river a mile away. Connections are made between two people, flesh upon flesh.
Echoes string across the deserted sands, of a dry planet, from another place and time.
Lost! Hearts and souls, hold hands and say, “it’s alright, it’s alright, let’s right these wrongs. These catastrophic misunderstandings of love and lust, these lies, disguised as hopes and dreams. Emotional misers wander around searching…while love starved lovers sit waiting to be found. In a hotel room overlooking La Mujer Dormida, in Mexico a forgotten doll lays on the floor behind the curtain while an old man drinks his bootleg tequila from a metal cup…the sun sets somewhere while he closes his eyes.
Desperation for the currency that can save lost souls, walking down a deserted highway across the desert of stones, rolled across from up above. Stones, rocks and boulders falling down like fire from somewhere up above – clouds with no silver linings.
A sound, a sign, a voice calling home – loneliness can feel so lonely at times. Did she even read the letters that he had written and sent with such abandon? Can she feel his pulsating heart? Too many misunderstandings in their words can have catastrophic results – breakdown in communications between connected lovers.
Stare across that platform and plant your feet upon the third rail. If you time it right you can make it home. Back to the time where you came from. Where cloudy days are a respite from the searing sun and the rain will guide a seed into a seed once again.
A breeze, splashing aridity, tires rolling atop the asphalt, an airplane thousands of feet up in the sky as some birds are conversing in whistles, in a tree without leaves, perched proudly towards the horizon where a cat is wailing as a light turns on inside a third floor apartment.
A lone man, the miser, he pulls up a shade and opens the window as the street light flickers and turns off. He stares across and wonders just what it is he is left with – wonders why he never could laugh or cry true. So many layers of protection – he stares across…
Across the way there is a highway, beyond the highway are mountains in the shape of a lady laying on her side as if watching as the town awakens. He wonders if she sees him…
A tap, tap, tap as newspapers are thrust onto the porches one by one by one, by a kid on a bike wearing a backpack filled with the news of the day – listening to Robert Plant from two tiny earphones. He passes a man carrying fire and wonders if it scars his hands or if he’s safe from harm.
It’s a catastrophic misunderstanding between compromise and determination. As a man walks up the road, up the stairs to his office on the 2nd floor, where lifetimes pass. The lunchtime crowds walk hypnotically through the streets and back to the screen staring competition.
A life filled with compromising, smiles, tears and prescription medicines. A short walk towards the coffee shop and suddenly the moon has appeared, above the mountain, in the shape of a woman on her side, watching over this town…