Long Walk Home


I went to workforce one today, in hopes that they would help me look for work.  I went at around 2:00 pm. When I got there, they told me that since I had not been there in around a year I would have to sign up to use their services, and the only way to sign up for it is to go there for orientation at 8:30am.

I don’t mind going there at 8:30.  Sounds good to me, any help on the path to employment is gladly accepted, but they could have saved me the wasted time and metrocard fare, and simply told me before I left that that was the case. I called them, dropped them an e-mail.  I got zero response. So, trying to be pro-active, or more accurately trying to avoid the “lazy” label in my own mind, left the apartment in an attempt to get help myself.

I could have waited at home, saved the money.  45 minutes after I left I got the response from the e-mail telling me what I learned above, which was echoed by the young woman at the front desk at workforce.

Dammit.

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The workforce office that I went to is about 4 ½ miles from where I live, the way I walk it anyway.  I tend to meander when I walk, but that is because I know the area, having lived here all my life.  Most of the places I walked today I have been to countless times, lived or played or hung out around.  Some powerful thoughts hit me when I walked around these places that I used to haunt in days gone by.

These are those thoughts.

I walked past what looked like an old overgrown field, but to me it was a place that I hung out when I cut classes at Curtis high school.  I smiled, and thought about how dumb it was, and how much fun I had.  Dumb and fun, that is what I used to be about.  I’ve grown up.  Hard to avoid, I guess,  time converts all men in some manner away from the infantile and towards more mature pursuits.  That thought tempered the smile a bit.

As I passed a Bodega near York Avenue and Richmond Terrace, an odd thought struck me.  I haven’t hung out here in nearly 3 decades, and the place still looks and smells the same as it did all those year ago.  I knew it still looked the same, pass the place every once in a while, but the smell, the entirely indescribable aroma, seemed for lack of a better term, the right one, the same one as in 1980.

Said as much, to no one in particular.  When I said it, the guy standing on the corner looked at me funny, but that kind of thing never bothers me.  I smiled at him, that ugly demented smile of mine, and he didn’t know what to do with it, and turned around, and we went our separate ways.

I Wonder what’s going on with the people I went to school with.  Think that as I pass Laub’s auto body shop on the terrace. I went to school with the son of the guy who opened that shop 35 or 40 odd years ago.  Wonder what Kevin’s up to now, it’s been 30 years since I’ve seen him.

Passed a place on Franklin avenue where parents, brother and I lived for about 18 months.  Place looked empty, unlived in.  Looks nice. But knowing the neighborhood, I won’t let outside looks deceive me. For a moment at least.

Passed my Uncle Rich’s house (God rest his soul) on Fillmore street.  T’was a sad moment.  I’d have said a prayer for his soul, but my prayers never get answered, and don’t mean a damn in the scheme of things (i’m still poor, ugly, and stupid, and the world is still a mess), so a prayer for him would have done nothing for him, or anyone. My prayers must suck or sumthin.  I miss the man.

The meddy is gone, replaced by what looks like an apartment building, or maybe a nursing home.  The meddy, you ask? It was the name that was given to an old building at the corner of Fillmore and Lafayette.  It actually threw me off, not seeing that old mess of a building there.   I remember liking that old, dilapidated thing when I was a kid for some reason.

Passed my (actually my parents) old house on Fillmore Street.  The place has, not surprisingly, changed.  The second floor porch is gone.  It’s got white aluminum siding on it, and there are bay windows.  A number of the houses looked different than I remembered them.   Still, I was surprised that no memories came back to me walking by, but the place looked different enough where I guess there was just no place for present and past to connect.

A few blocks further on, I passed St. Paul’s school, where I went to school for 8 years… I wanted to go in and look around the place.  Didn’t.  I, just for a second, felt like doing like I did when I was in second grade, and run into the playground in the back. I looked into the eighth grade classroom, the closest one to the street, knowing there was no class there, the school is closed now, but hoping to get a glimpse of something.  Got a glimpse of nothing.  Dammit.

Walked around, past St. Peter’s boys high, a top notch rat hole, to Caldera place, there was no sign there with the street name on it anymore, then to Prospect avenue.  I was coming up to an old hangout spot, and for the life of me I could not remember the name of the place.  Something…pond.  Walked past devon place (knew the name of the street before I got to it,) past Lois place, where a kid named Mike Covolus that I went to school with lived. I remembered an incident with a kid named Billy Malik that happened there. But for the life of me, I could not remember the name of the park.

Knew all the streets, remembered running around there as a kid, hanging out, partying, but could not remember the name of the place until I passed a sign.  Allison pond.  How the hell did I forget THAT?  Good lord, either I was way too happily high back then, or I had me a genuine senior moment/brain lock there.  Either way, pretty damn funny.

Much of the rest of the walk was… just a walk, just me trying to get home.  Forest avenue is a singularly forgettable place to be.

I walked past another place where I lived as a child, from ’73 to ’79.  Smiled as I walked around the bend, and saw the top of the garage.  The one where my older brother and I proved conclusively that my Tonka truck, that tonka trucks were not, contrary to popular belief, indestructible.  We did this by tossing them off of the top of the garage, a number of times as I recall, to their very timely demise.

Could not help a long look back. Several in fact. Slowed to a crawl, and stopped twice, wanting to walk back and just stare, soak in all of the yesterday that was there.

Kept going, things to do, a life to live, things to do.

The rest of the walk was just  a walk through the park and the uphill home.

With one exception.

I, along with some guy walking his dog, saw some falcons in the trees near martling and slosson.  The guy walking his dog said he saw 3, I saw one, but the hawk was an impressive sight.  Wing span looked large, maybe 5 feet. I dunno if the hawks that live here get that big, but he was no small bird.  After looking at the majestic creature for a few moments, along with a black Ibis that was in the area, I made my way home.

_______________________________

That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

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