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What Returns To Us

I have moved into my (second) childhood neighborhood. I have not thought about it very much because I have been so busy, but Sunday morning, on the way to the gym, I walked down West End Avenue and saw the apartment building—895—where I lived from the age of 4 until I entered junior high school. We lived in the high-ceilinged first floor apartment where my mother, an obstetrician-gynecologist, also had her office. We occupied the back bedrooms and the living/dining area. Our maid had a small room off the kitchen. Of course there were several such maids/housekeepers/nannies to look after us while my mother and step-father worked. It was unusual in those days; most moms were stay-at-home moms. My refugee parents never had the luxury. Nor do parents today.

I walked slowly and then snapped an iphone picture which I immediately posted onto Facebook with a short caption. But, unexpectedly, there was more to say, more to write about: This is where I lived when I was a child. This is where I played handball, roller skated, jumped rope and played jacks. My friend, Diana, lived next door at 885. Her mother did not work and she lived in an extended family—grandmother, aunt, cousins—while her father worked. I thought the set-up sublime and ate lunch there whenever I could. And so on.

So this may be the beginning of another memoir. It certainly feels as though it is. And though I have writing plans for the next month—the fifth novella in a new collection—I may take a detour, it’s hard to say. It is very pleasant to let the mind drift, to allow the images and ideas to surface, pen and paper (or computer) at the ready.

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