Monday, November 7, 1977

Psalm 11
Day 27

Got up medium. It rained all day today. We dressed and stayed warm after going to Sam's Deli-grocery and the supermarket. We read, ate and then Pops went to the laundromat. When he came back, we each got our own duffle bag. later, Pops went out. He came back. Had a simple supper, then went bag. Thank you, Mr. O

WOOHOO!!! HOTDAMN! Our own duffel bag each! We were HOME, baby! That meant all the clothes were separated, and each of us kept track of our own clothes. I remember the duffel bags being perched in the corners at the foot of our beds. Cuz there was one TINY closet. Tiny by even NYC standards. Useless tiny. About two years ago Poppy's college friend Uncle Toshio (now passed, God bless him) came and forced Poppy to reorganize, and we put an IKEA Ivar shelf unit in there, and now it's Poppy's office. But back then it held things that needed to be hung, and mostly coats. Oh, and years later when Aunt Sinah passed and we got her ashes back, they sat in there for a number of years until Poppy set them free in New Mexico.

We lived by the duffel bag system for years and years. Truth be told, Poppy still holds on to those damn duffel bags. I think he has the original ones, even. And he had those duffel bags from God knows when... college maybe? I have to ask. They don't make things like they used to, that's for sure!

Sam's Deli Grocery. Sam was a tall dark-skinned brother who was friends with the man who later became our landlord. It was rumored that he was a drug-dealer and numbers runner. He had a son, who was slightly younger than the Professor and I. A sheltered kid, like most big-time drug-dealers kids were. Spoiled rotten, not cute and pretty unlikeable. When we got to be teenagers, this kid was a "wannabe" and tried to hang out with us, tried to sell drugs with the big boys but was always considered a nuisance, and teased unmercifully. I wonder what happened to him.

It's amazing how quickly I adapted to this life. I had always assumed that the Professor did, too, but writing all this out has helped me realize that this wasn't the case. I started taking pictures almost immediately, and that same winter, in early '78 when I turned 13 Poppy gave me my first camera. I still have it. It had no aperture ability at all, so the only pictures that ever came out where taken in bright light, but I have one of my view out the front window (Sam's Deli is barely visible at the far right of the picture).

But I look back at the few that came out, and I still remember most of the people, the views I took, how I was feeling. And it wasn't that any of it was "normal", but it wasn't any more abnormal than the rest of my life... it was simply another experience. I had already had several; moving from the States to Paris, living in Paris with Mima--my babysitter/sister/aunt/friend and then having her leave and us moving to Jamaica, the first house in Jamaica (that I now believe was haunted), then picking up and moving via donkey cart to the house on 38 Montgomery, then being evicted from there, traveling around Kingston, ending up in Bull Bay, being deported, living on 'Two-Five. It's why I say on my profile that I often feel my life has been lived in phases, with no two phases having anything to do with each other, other than the fact they were lived by me. In '77 I had already become immune to the trauma of moving; I could already "let go" of places and people and move on. As long as there was the four of us, and as long as there was structure within whatever life we were living, I could accept that the rest of it was transient.

As an adult, and a mom, I find that the "isms" that have come out of this is experience is that I tend to hold on to people. I still love and need my parents now as much as I did then, as well as my sister, and Mima, and anyone else who's come into the "Vortex" that is Us. It's very hard for me to let go of people now. Although once I do, that's it--I never ever go back. But I don't hold on to experiences and memories the way other people seem to. I see the difference, ironically enough, in the way I raise my kid. It amazes me that people get all bent out of shape about the life their kids are living; the schools they go to, how they are learning. Their kids relationships with their peers. Is the kid popular? Smart? Getting the best possible education? And it's all in comparison to the life they had as a child.

Those things don't bother me at all, because it's all transient. My life was so abnormal, yet within the context of it, I had two parents that loved me and a sister, and I ate regularly and that's all that really mattered. I was smart, by school definitions (when I finally got to school), but to me it was a game; it was all about learning how to navigate the system and the people, and didn't have much to do with what I was supposed to learn. The downside to that is that I never particularly cared about *anything* until I had the Sun, and then I suddenly realized the need to have a passion for something other than him. And Pratt gave me that passion for learning, for developing a skill. But I was 38 by then.

And so I feel that no matter what the Sun learns now, or how he lives now, it's not necessarily what he'll be doing when he grows up. Who would have thought that my shy, not-particulary-successful-in-school sister would hold a masters degree? And that I wouldn't? Your life can go a myriad of ways; the possibilities are infinite and ultimately what really matters is the substance of the human soul; how you see the world and decide what to live for. You have to decide to stand for something, I feel. My family stood for living freely, for holding on to their creativity. My father, in particular, stood for his profound faith in God. Most of the decisions he's made, when I ask him about them, were based on his conviction to live for his art, and because he trusted God he felt that no matter what we went through we'd end up OK.

As crazy as it all was, in a way he was right. Our lives are still far from "normal", and always seemed to be filled with some type of major drama, but we seem to function OK. I guess?

The apartment that I live in now is the longest place I have ever lived in my entire life, and every so often I feel I should pick up and go, but the feeling is fleeting. For one thing, my kid has had the exact opposite experience; he has lived here with me this way for as long as he can remember... and he refuses to even entertain the thought of moving or living anyplace else. Well, he'd consider Florida, but only if the Moon were there. By the time I was his age, I had lived in three countries, visited four, and lived in five different places. He's a little spoiled, has far too many toys and clothes and doesn't understand physical hardship. Yesterday he got petulant because I told him I wasn't going to buy him a game for his DS (he got it, ultimately... my reasoning was that he read a 500-something page book all by himself so I could justify the game as a type of reward), and when I told him that when I first came to this country I didn't even have a real bed, his eyes got wide.

I have to start reading him this blog...


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