I have been doing a lot of radio and TV appearances lately and I often have little idea as to where it will go other than a particular message I would like to get across to the listeners. Recently Brad Davis asked me on his show about my childhood and where I grew up. I was telling a story about a prostitute who lived upstairs and who worked out of her home. She was such a friendly, warm woman with a wonderful laugh. When the Navy ships were in we had men coming over the roof of the housing projects where I lived to her apartment on the top floor as well as sailors who arrived in taxis and who were walking in the front door of the building. She had quite a following… I used to babysit for a woman on the first floor who was a prostitute also but who worked away from home, on the streets. It is amazing what can appear normal in different environments and to me they were just two of my neighbors.
However, about two months ago another element of my early years reappeared. A friend I had known throughout high school found me on Facebook. Although some things are different including my name he said the eyes “still had the wildness in them” so he reached out and contacted me. This has led to an amazing journey of memories I didn’t realize I still had, to aspects of my childhood/teen years I had forgotten. I have now spent hours with him and his wife more than once, another friend and his wife, and through emails and phone calls time with others as well.
I have taught for years that it is important to live in the present and I do believe that wholeheartedly, yet the gift of traveling back in time with friends from decades ago, remembering the sadness, the lost, abused child, and the dreamer who wanted more, the laughter, the innocent trouble we got into, the romances, and the friendships, the gift of a community with shared memories is a gift beyond compare. We talked of our heritage, of coming from an area, South Boston, or Southie as it is known to us, that was more of a culture than a place. It was an attitude, a humor, a perfected sarcasm that was only used on those you loved as a game of bantering, while politeness was saved for strangers. It was a community where everyone knew you or your family. It was a unique culture that filled us with such pride because we came from there all while most of us worked to get out. The irony of life is not lost on such a crowd we simply laugh at it. We all knew we had a wee bit of insanity in us, we had to, since being human is such a mix of the divine and the mortal; our immortality was a given yet too many died too young…
With all of this, the memories, the warmth, the reconnections, I am so aware that being found again by what really is extended family, truly is a coming home to a self I had forgotten in some ways, to dreams lost, while realizing that the road we each walked was the one we chose, the one we created, either as a response or a reaction to the outside world, or as an evolution of who we chose to become. I pray you have the same blessing. If you do, what will you discover? What you will you remember? What about your past can help you see the current you with new eyes? Can it help you see the life you have created which took you far from where you began and yet if you are blessed, will bring you back again?