Growing up I, always felt like a pauper, with a penny short, and a soleless shoe. However, my mother was an artist and chose to live in the East Village of New York. My parents were starving artist and although their parents lived a more affluent life, they wanted to live the Alphabet City life.
While growing up on East 11th Street and Avenue A, in the Lower East Side (LES) I had an amazing neighborhood. Yes, we had homeless, junkies, drug dealers and the occasional whino’ but more importantly we had great neighbors, loving store shop owners and everyone seemed to care about my family.
I often felt like everyone knew my dad. He was a super, that means he was the superintendent of the building. He worked for three different companies and had twenty-five buildings that he personally cleaned and took care of all over the city. He would ride his bike all around. He also played music that was incredible.
I remember when I was a little girl, he played in CBGB for the Beastie Boys, The Ramones, Blondie, and The New York Dolls. Daytime hard worker and nighttime hard rocker; he would say. My mom was my dad’s biggest groupie. She loved him more than I think anyone.
She loved when he sang and when he played instruments and called him her Superman. The way they gazed into each other’s eyes was deeper than the ocean. I also felt like a celebrity when I was with them because he knew everyone and everywhere. My mom would say that they wanted his autograph.
My father had so many jobs. As I mentioned a super, musician with paid gigs, a bouncer, handyman, exterminator, plumber, electrician…basically you name it, he did it. He would send money home to his mom and save all his money in our apartment wall. They had cut a hole in the drywall behind a fake outlet and all the money was there.
One day they took all their cash and purchased a house… but that is another story and future blog.
I recall, when I was a teenager blossoming into becoming a young lady, so many guys would tell my father, can I marry your daughter. He would say, “which one?” As it was just my sister and I, and just when they were about to speak, he would say, “sorry to cut you off but you need at least a minimum of a college degree and a pension.” I would laugh at this because he was so serious.
He sat me down one day and said that he worked hard and had no benefits, insurance, or a pension. He did not want me to ever worry about that when I became a woman or a wife. He was old fashion and ahead of his time. He said, “a person’s looks will fade but their pension will only continue to grow interest.” I thought that was the silliest thing.
My mother who was originally married at fifteen, she had escaped her first husband and then met my father in the village through a mutual friend. They were married when I was about eight years old. She was always afraid for my sister and I to get married. She told me to promise her that I would never marry anyone until I was at least 21 years old. She would say “dating is like trying on shoes, try them all on to you find the right fit.” I was always dating different boys and I would never commit to just one.
One day, I was eighteen and my sister, and a couple of great friends went on a boat cruise around New York City and we danced the whole night away. My sweet friend at the time told us that her cousin would drive us home, but we had to meet him at club Fantasia. When we got there, I saw him and I thought he was gorgeous to me he reminded me of A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell, dimples, and all. So handsome, I his and he had amazing eyes and a beautiful smile. He drove us home and my mother was smoking a cigarette outside and said, “who is the cutie”, I laughed and told her who he was. The next day I called all the guys that I was seeing and told them I can never talk to them again because I fell in love.
I would often ask my friend where he was; and, she would say, New Jersey, Ecuador…just not here. I felt so sad… but I did feel my heart longed for him. Years later, my mother had passed away and now I was living in an apartment with my friend who I lovingly referred to as my PIC (Partner in Crime) who to this day is one of my dearest friends. We always went bar hopping, clubbing, and just living a crazy life.
My dear friend invited us both over to her house and her mother told me that her nephew would be there. I felt nervous but we went. When we got there, I did not recognize him, and all of a sudden, we recognized each other. It was kismet I felt my heart go “zing!”
We went on our first date April 17, 2002 and at the end of the date he asked me, “what was I doing the next day?” I told him whatever I was doing that day and he said, “ok, I will pick you up” and he did and every day after until August 17. Every day for the next five months, it was shocking and romantic.
On August 17, he asked me again “What was I doing today?” and I laughed, he said, “What was I doing for the rest of my life?” I said, “What?” He asked if I had dropped something, when I turned to look, I found him kneeling on my right side with a ring. He then asked me to marry him and I said, “yes of course”. I was 22, so I kept my promise to my mother. We got our marriage license on September 17 and we eloped on September 20, 2002 and we have been together ever since.
I often look back and miss my neighborhood and he remind me I never left. I always compare everything to where I am from, the food, culture, fashion everything. I love where I live now but I do miss that time in my life.
Now, with my sons I am always worried about them. There was a time I would ride my skateboard and hold the back of New York City cabs to get from place to place or jump from the roof tops as we would enjoy the Tar Beach in the summer. I guess it was a different time and those moments helped create the person I am today. From skateboard and trains in the city streets with freestyle playing on the corners to my kid filled Jeep, snacks and bookbags and Kidz Bop playing on the radio.
My beautiful husband truly swept me off my feet. He took care of me and made sure I never went without. He provided anything I asked and would give everything I did not ask for. Very loving and everything I never knew I needed..
Honestly, when I am feeling nostalgic, which I often do I reminisce about my childhood and wish that my parents and grandparents were still alive. Besides for them and those losses, if I could go back in time I don’t think I would change a pebble or rock as it these experiences made me the woman I am today on this journey of Fannytasticlife!
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