As I drove out to Kroger for my first few shifts, I was struck by the way the store’s building seemed totally enveloped by the surrounding mountains. Being from a relatively flat part of central Maryland how enormous they appeared, and how green, on the verge of autumn. They still impress me as my time here passes, but sometimes it’s like they’ve inexplicably receded as, almost daily, I drive up 460 and park in the designated employee lot and ignore them as I walk through the front doors.
Once the family had gathered at the beach, we all took stock of the tide, which rushed furiously past us, spitting foam. My uncle handed Papa a long wooden spoon for the ashes and together, they wobbled to the edge of the rock.
They called my mother. When she came to pick me up, her whole body was in a controlled rage. She spanked my butt on the way to the car as I cried and tried to explain that I didn’t do it on purpose. “It was just a game,” I told her. She told me never to play games around white children. I didn’t understand. It was just a game.
Karen J. Weyant thoughtful essay touches on the rural and urban divide: "City people was a code word that we all used for those who came up from Pittsburgh. These people simultaneously admired our beautiful wildlife in northern Pennsylvania yet wondered out loud how 'anyone could possibly live like this,' in reference to our small towns with single stoplights, two or three gas stations, and no fast food restaurants or malls. "
Steven Harvey finds music, ruminating on the rhythm of words in nature while hiking. "We crack up at the dactylic rhythm of “pipsissewa,” which means “broken into small pieces,” like the river itself, and when we come upon a pink azalea in full bloom, we give out a cheer, creating our own music."
We had parties at Ted’s once a month because his mom worked nights and his dad didn’t see the point of legal drinking ages. We were all under twenty-one at the time, and we didn’t go away to college—those of us who went at all—so Ted’s basement was our version of a frat house. In some ways, it was safer, and in some ways, more dangerous.
At this writing, I have called New York City home for three decades—several years more than I’d been alive when I moved here. I have lived in Harlem, though mostly in my current home of Brooklyn, and I’ve worked in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. I got married in Prospect Park and sent my children to public schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I have served on two juries, voted in eight mayoral elections, and watched the progression from one-dollar subway token to $2.75 MetroCard. I am a New Yorker.
Childhood is a mortifying thing, best forgotten.