MUSIC FROM THE TIMEFRAME: OCT'78-DEC'78In no particular order:
Donna Summer-MacArthur Park, The Who-Who Are You, Foreigner-Double Vision, Nick Gilder-Hot Child In The City, Little River Band-Reminiscing, Boston-Don't Look Back, Toto-Hold The Line, Ace Frehley-New York Groove, Queen-Fat Bottomed Girls, The Rolling Stones-Beast of Burden, Gerry Rafferty-Right Down The Line, Chic-LeFreak, Olivia-Newton John & J. Travolta-You're The One That I Want, Meatloaf-You Took The Words (Right Out of My Mouth)
Where do I begin?
I could start anywhere and write forever about it. Essentially, I maintain that I have lived
perhaps as many as 6 lives in my 43-year stint on this ball. One could have even argued that I started my “7th” after moving out of Ileana’s and into my own place last September, but there’s still too much in this heart and head of mine to feel like a new chapter has dawned upon me.
My first life would have been from conception to the age of 13 or so. There was a lot that happened to me during those formative years. And I am happy to say that thanks to Facebook, I, and about 30 other classmates from the Immaculate Conception School in Jamaica will be having a reunion in June. That school was only a few blocks from the Camelot building, directly across the street from the Mary Louis Academy. In fact, many of my classmates went to Mary Louis. I’ll have to pick their brains about that!
My second life would be from the day that I went to live with my father until essentially the day before I started working at McDonald’s. October 12th, 1978 until October 15th, 1982 (an oddly magical day in my personal history books)
My third life starts with McDonald’s and ends with the ending of my days as a young adult living alone in Kew Gardens without any serious prospects. How pathetic is one when they essentially admit that a run-of-the-mill fast food joint becomes the next revolution in evolution, right? This life was short lived in comparison to my other lives, but when I tell you everything that there is to tell, you will know why it was so intense. October 16th, 1982 until sometime in the middle of February of 1985
My fourth life begins at the start of me having my first blind date, in February 1985, with the woman for whom I am to marry the following year. It will last until my divorce from her in 1993.
Like my second life, which I began and ended as a single man, so does my fifth. However, in my fifth life I get to go through my second marriage, and have two children. A train wreck you might say I’ve become? No. I’m not stupid. There are so many people who have been divorced several times, and with kids too. I always find it amusing when people upon learning of my “fall from grace”, suggest or imply that perhaps I should have made wiser choices. Well, duh. Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. While some in my shoes, could invoke the cliché that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, my second marriage was no hell, at least not like the first one anyway. I had, and still have plenty of wonderful moments during this life. For me, it was a coming of age and a shedding of my past mistakes….but only to a point. By the end, I would learn that I still have much to learn. Learn about shortcomings, and the fragility for which a relationship can become if either left unattended, or uncared for. Life number 5 begand for me on July 9, 1993 and ended on Thanksgiving evening of 2003.
My sixth, and so far current (I think) life starts from the day after Thanksgiving of 2003, and continues in the modern day of what I am now today at this very moment that you are reading this mini-manifesto.
At one point, I had held my privacy somewhat guarded. There will be certain things that I keep discreet, and perhaps certain people for whom I may summon by another name, or perhaps at least omit their last name to protect their right to privacy. I really am not looking into doing this for any other reason then probably to reminisce, and perhaps one day to have this published for my children to read about how normal (or abnormal for those of you who know me better) I am.
It is so hum-drum to talk about yourself, but to even suggest about your own conception seems a bit much. Plus, going back that far is going to require some added thought, even by my own abilities. So, I think I will stick to Life # 2 instead.
Life 2 – Act 1 : The Baseball Team.
On October 12, 1978, my father came to pick me up at my mother’s apartment in Forest Hills. It was not a Friday, but a Thursday. It was not to take me anywhere special, just his apartment. And, it was not for a day, or a weekend, or a week but rather for the rest of my childhood years.My father lived with his wife Carmen at 63-60 98th Street in a building called the Washington in Rego Park, Queens. They lived on the 6th floor in apartment F20 at the end of the corridor. The building was not unlike my mother’s apartment. While it may not have been as royal looking, it was still a classic brownstone. Marble-floored lobby, separate mail room, and just like my mother’s own apartment, this place also boasted a sunken living room, 2 bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Alexis, almost 3, and Vanessa about 18 months old, shared one of those bedrooms. In the living room, my parents had a mod-squad- looking set of couches. It was geometrically appealing. It was also furry and firm, and for the next 8 months it would be my bed too.
Dad and Carmen, still recovering from the shell-shock of commuting nearly 3 hours in each direction between Iberia Airlines in Rego Park, and Exit 68 off the Long Island Expressway, decided to go to the other extreme. This apartment was 3 blocks from the office. They went from 3 hours driving to 3 blocks walking. Incredible.
Moving from where I lived at 72-11 110th Street, which was right across the street from my elementary school (Our Lady Queen of Martyrs) meant that I no longer could walk to school. I had to take the GG or the N (now G and R, respectively) Subway trainto get to school. So, for the majority of the 8th grade, I hope on at 63rd Drive in Rego Park and take it two short stops to the train’s endpoint at 71st Street-Continental Avenue in Forest Hills. From there I would walk the rest of the way. Now I don’t know about you, but back in my day, there was nothing wrong with a boy of 13, taking the subway unescorted. Nowadays, I’m sure it still happens, but if it were my kids I don’t know that I would feel too comfortable about allowing it. Yes, there were freaks that rode along with me every now and then, but I guess people were more innocent or at least naïve at that moment in time.
Funny thing, is that there was another Catholic School right across the street from my father’s, Our Lady of the Angelus. Fortunately for me, I did not have to switch schools again. Plus, I loved Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. In my whole life, I have never met anyone else like me. A class clown that had everyone, even the teachers laughing at my stupidities, while all the while maintain an “A-“ average.
The day I came to live with them was a shock to Carmen more than it was to me. That’s because I was under the guise that my stay was just temporary, or as my mother had put it, “Until my walking pneumonia goes away, and I feel strong enough to have you come back to live with me.” Charming. The real truth however was not revealed to me until a month or so later. I was never privy to the actual discussion that had taken place between my father and mother. Up until this month, and for a few years, both my parents had done some fighting over me and my support. Too many, and too ugly would be the first answer, if you ask me what they were. Plus, we are in life #2 and that took place in life #1.
But the conversation between my parents was over the phone and generally went something like this:
Mother: “David. It’s me. Listen, I have a proposition to make to you.”
Father: “What is it?”
Mother: “Do you love your son?”
Father: “Of Course I do. You know you don’t have to ask me that.”
Mother: “Do you love him enough that if I permitted him to live with you that you would not only say yes, but really take care of him David?”
Father: “I’ve always told you that I wish he would live with me. What are you getting at?”
Mother: “Nothing. But I just think he would be better off with you, that’s all.”
Father: “Well, yes, of course! I would love it if he could live with me. When would that happen though.”
Mother: “I can have his things ready by the time he gets home from school. He can be living with you by tonight.”
Father: “Just like that? What about the lawyers? What about all of the legal paperwork involved? I just can’t take him like that. Plus, after what you’ve put me through in the past?, How do I know this isn’t some trick? I still remember that time when you permitted me to take my son to Marbella, Spain, and when I came back you later told your lawyer that I kidnapped him.”
Mother: “I’m sorry, but this is a take it or leave it deal.”
At this point, I can’t even imagine what was going on in my father’s mind. He was right. My mother has done certain things that were not too nice, but then again I’m sure he too was right on up there in the shit-stirring department as well.
After a long thought, he replied.
Father: “Okay. I will accept your offer.”
I came home from school that day, completely oblivious to the knowledge that my 1st life was minutes from being over. In fact, it would be a few years before I could even accept what had actually happened. Children are supposed to respect their elders, but it would have been nice if they could have involved me in the discussion. Either way, my mother just did not want to be an active mother anymore, despite how good of a child I know I was.
A couple of hours had gone by. I had finished my homework, and my mother says that my father is going to pick me up and take me to dinner. Sure. Fine. No problem by me.
My Dad picks me up after work around 6pm, and takes me to his apartment about 2 miles away. It was the first time I had seen the place, but more importantly, and as my father goes into the bedroom to get Carment to come and say hello to me, I ventured into the other bedroom to see Alexis who is in a crib. “That’s funny.” I thought. “Why is there another crib, and who is the little girl in it?”
Carmen: “Hi David! Oh My God, you’ve gotten so big! David, look how big your son has gotten!”
(let’s just rewind a second……”David” is my middle name. And while my mother started making sure that my schools started calling me by my first name, Alex, a nickname for my real name, Alejandro. Dad and Carmen would call me David until almost the start of my sophomore year in High School. Imagine having your parents call you one name, and your teachers and schoolmates call you another! )
Alex: “Hi Carmen!”
Dad: “Yes Carmen, I know. He’s going to be a fine looking man someday. Just like me.”
Carmen: “Sure! Sure! Very funny!”
Alex: “Who is the other baby in Alexis’ bedroom?”
Carmen: “Dad didn’t tell you? That’s Vanessa. She is your sister!!”
Alex: “Wow she is big already!”
Carmen: “Well, we haven’t seen you in quite awhile, perhaps two years almost, since your mother moved you back to Queens.”
Alex: “I still can’t believe it.”
And then I made this insightful observation….
Alex: “The last time I saw you, you had one kid. And now two. If I keep coming back here, you will have a baseball TEAM!!!”
Carmen and my father both roared laughing. But I wasn’t kidding about what I said. It just seemed all so fast for me.
Carmen: “Is he going to stay with us for the weekend?”
And at that point, just like Senior officer Spock, my father raised his eyebrow, and with a heavy breath said,
Dad: “Yes Carmen. He is going to stay with us for the weekend…..A VERY LON-N-N-N-N-G WEEKEND.”
stay tuned for the next chapter entitled "LIFE 2 - CHAPTER 2 - THE CLASS CLOWN"