THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
“New York, New York! So great they had to name it twice!!” Mommy threw her head back and laughed heartily. She passed her being immensely proud of being born and raised in Brooklyn, NY right down to me. It’s just as dominant in my DNA as the side profile we share. Twins. People say we are twins.
Twins. Like our new home. A young widow, she was excited about our move that year. The year I turned 12. We all were. A two family Brownstone built in 1915 awaited us. At that time I could care less about how beautiful the neighborhood was. (Something I really appreciate now). All I knew was I was finally going to get my own room!
Three concrete steps and a waist high iron gate was the phantom barrier between us and the rest of the world. Once on the other side of the gate, wide open spaces appeared to blur the adjoining Brownstones. The walk to the six concrete steps paved the way to the stone stoop we were rarely permitted to sit on. That was a no no growing up. Anything that remotely looked like loitering was quickly put to an end. Yes. Even though we lived there and it was our house. Our house and our home. Sitting on the stoop and having a lot of foot traffic wasn’t goin’ down on those steps. They weren’t having it.
Oh, who are they? Mommy. Her Mommy and her Daddy. We. He and I. He being my little brother, two years my junior and now 6’7 1/2 inches tall, kept them on their toes. We used the length and breadth of that space. From walking through the front double glass doors to running up the 18 steps that took us to the 2nd floor.
Our floor. It’s hardwood shouldered our every movement while failing to cushion any of our noise. Movement and noise did we! From blasting 98.7 KISS FM to WBLS on the end of your FM dial. From playing tag, play fighting, really fighting, and breakdancing. The floor to ceiling mirrors were the perfect replication of the Broadway stages I sang on. Well in my dreams anyway. Daydream after daydream. Brush in hand. My volume? Through the roof. The he of my we held it down. Laying the foundation Black Rock Coalition style on his drum set. His drum set. On eternal punishment, it was sentenced to the basement.
Though the backyard was extremely spacious, it’s narrow borders were unapologetically unappealing. Unkempt bushes, grass and God knows what else back there did a great job of repelling us. Well not all of us. Just we. They made friends with the forest. Well not all of they. Just the he of the they. You know. Mommy’s Daddy.
Him and his Alabama farming skills were quite comfortable back there. As were his cabbage, tomatoes and whatever else he decided to plant that year. The oldest she of the they, Mommy’s Mommy didn’t have time for that. Everywhere at all times and feisty as the day is long, she kept us all in check. Maybe it was the volunteer auxiliary police officer in her. Known at the local precinct and loved by all. I think it’s because she knew something we didn’t. It’s not as though she didn’t try to tell us. Our uncircumcised ears just couldn’t hear.
But him? The he of the they? He brought the country to his part of the house so it can feel like home to him. Home to them. Home to us. House still there. He is 94 now. His she has passed on. Mommy is still there and the he of my we has since moved out too.
That house? That twin? That two family Brownstone is not just a house. It’s home. It stills feels like home…and there’s still no place like it.
© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee, 2015
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