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 Category:  Letters and Diary Fiction
  Posted: January 5, 2021      Views: 30

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 ABOUT
ESTORY 
I am very happy to be back on this site once again after an absence. I used to be ekpoet here years ago. I hope to be able to contribute with lots of reviews and some new material which I have been working on for the last several years. I have writte - more...

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Finding yourself in this world
"Memories of this World ch. 1" by estory

The rooms of our apartment in Brooklyn seemed enormous; great painted caverns with carpeted floors to crawl around in. The tables and chairs around the rooms were like forests and tunnels. Outside, the towering windows overlooked the street where cars flashed past from somewhere out in that vast world on out of sight. Strangers walked by bundled in their coats, clutching their bags. The buildings across the street were full of their own windows, portals onto other, mysterious, inner worlds. People and colorful cartoon characters appeared on the talking television set. My father's aquarium soared above me like the sea of tranquility, full of vivid little creatures swimming in the water between Chinese temple gates and treasure chests blowing bubbles. The Lionel train set my father set up for me in the back room roared around in its own world on silver tracks laid out between plastic houses, barns, train stations and artificial trees.

Always though in this big world was the warm embrace of my mother, and the warm voice of my father. Somehow I learned that my mother made breakfast, lunch and dinner in the kitchen out of metal cabinets, the refrigerator, the gas stove, the electric toaster and the coffee maker. The radio on the refrigerator played my mother's favorite songs: 'Do you know the way to San Jose?' 'California Dreamin' and 'What the world needs now is love, sweet love'. During the day while my father was out my mother would read to me of the Cat in the Hat, and the Big World of Little Adam. In the evening my father would come home from the shop and we would eat dinner and watch that television.

In the winter the snow too was something to discover, cold and white and seeming to come from another world. I remember seeing the white moon in the sky and wondering if the snow came from the moon. The snow transformed apartment buildings into mountains, the elevated train into a covered bridge, telephone poles into snow men and the trees into angels.

A short drive away was St. Paul's Lutheran church where we prayed every Sunday in the sparkling light of the stained glass windows within sight of the altar and its solemn candles. A short walk from there brought us to the park, where an Italian man with a moustache and an accent sold us real Italian ices in the summer time. Down the block was bustling Myrtle Avenue and its strange stores, its crowds of strangers, its traffic and traffic lights, and the elevated train that roared off over our heads into the wider world.

One day my mother took us on our first great journey into that world, to visit my grandmother in Cypress Hills. The stairs up to the El on the street full of hurrying strangers seemed to climb from the street into dizzying heights. The roar of the train stopped me in my tracks. But my mother took hold of my hand and her gentle voice kept repeating: "Take another giant step. Take another giant step. Don't look down now. Take another giant step." The platform was like something suspended in mid air, somewhere in the tops of the buildings. I could see far off over the stores to the sweeping skyline of Manhattan and its skyscrapers. A train came roaring around the bend on its tracks like a great beast, a metal caterpillar. But again my mother took my hand, telling me gently, bending over me, "It's just like your train set at home. Come. Watch your step. The train will take us to Nanny." I looked down as we stepped over the gap between the platform and the train car and saw the street far below, too far down to survive falling. But my mother stepped over it, holding me tight, lifting me into the safety of the car, where at last we could sit down.

The train began running, just like the train in my train set, taking us over the streets of the city and the stores and apartment buildings, beyond any connection back home that I could make out. But we were on our way to my grandmother's, where she would be waiting with her cookies, Hawaiian punch and old, wooden toys.

And then my mother would bring us home again to our own apartment, navigating the streets and station platforms and train lines back to Brooklyn and the familiar windows of Myrtle Avenue. And I discovered that the world was full of adventures, journeys there and back again.

Author Notes
A few notes here on Memories of this World, which will be unfolding in the ensuing chapters. I envision this as something between Washington Irving's Sketch Book and William Heyer's Noises in the Trees; little sketches of experiences of life, sensations of life, memories that build a soul. These will be much shorter pieces than the short stories I have posted here so far. This first piece is from my earliest memories of the town house where we lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York City in the early sixties, and the impressions that this world made on me there. It is about finding oneself in this world and finding out how to navigate it, through the soft guidance of your parents. It is a world of trains, cars, television sets and radio stations, model train sets and aquariums, old churches and parks and great avenues full of strangers and store windows. They sparked my imagination as much as any landscape would, I guess. To me many of these images became elements of spiritual transformation; the stained glass windows in the church became a vision of heaven, the snow too could create heaven on Earth. Television and radio were magic carpets that could transcend reality. But always at the center of this wild world and its vast expanses was that sense of home, of my mother and father, safely cradling us in this world. The style of the writing hearkens back somewhat to Joyce in Dubliners, a more free flowing stream of consciousness writing that I think suits this format. estory
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