Beaver & Wally Live Upstairs

One morning I wake up to the news that we are moving again. We’ve lived in this house for a few years and I was just getting used to the suburban lifestyle of Carteret. How am I going to tell Leo, Karen and Anthony that we can’t be friends anymore? I was just starting to feel rooted and here we go again.

We moved in a hurry to a rented house over in Perth Amboy.

“Just a layover till you finish High School next year,” mom says.

MY parents sold their house on Warren Street and moved on. For some reason though, we left a few things behind. Lots of boxes, my bike, my baseball card collection and my records. Mom called them unnecessary items. Oddly enough, with those unwanted boxes we also left my father behind.

June and boys This new house is nice with lots of windows. The living room has a bay window that looks out, over the lawn, to the tree-lined street.

The window of my room faces out to the side driveway and every morning I see the landlord and her husband leave for work. The backyard is large with lots of trees and an above-ground swimming pool. Every weekend I hear the neighbors laughing and splashing in it. Unfortunately it is off-limits for us.

The neighborhood is urban, but quiet. Too quiet compared to the house on Warren Street. No kids outside playing just lots of cars going by. The road is very wide but doesn’t have too much traffic. Wide enough for two lanes of traffic each way and an isle of parking on each side of the street. It seems like they were expecting this to be a major roadway.

On the second floor, above us, lives the landlord and her family. They are a traditional family and nice neighbors also. The landlord, her husband and two daughters are extremely quiet. The only sound we ever hear from them is the shuffling of the dining room chairs. The deep bass-y sound is backed up by the 6pm chime of their grandfather clock. Almost like a beautiful Aria, I hear the sounds of them sit down together for dinner as a family.

I can only imagine the dad saying “pass me the butter, honey”

and the mother happily doing so with a soft reply “here you go, dear.”

At that moment, almost as if waking me up from a daydream, my mom yells out “turn off the TV and take out the trash!”

I can’t believe it – I’m missing my favorite episode of Leave it to Beaver. This is a rerun and they will never play this episode again!

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Moving Day

Today is the day! “We’re finally getting out of the war zone,” my brother yells out. As we drive away from our house on Dawson St, I can’t help but miss this place already. It is a war torn area and it is a bad environment for a kid to grow up in, but it was what I called home.

As the car turns right on E 156th Street I turn around to get one last glimpse of our three-story brownstone. The house fades out of view and my mind drifts away. A feeling of loneliness sets in and I can’t help but feel sad. This is where I learned to survive. Where the battles of the street toughened up my character and where I grew up in a hurry.

See my usual, daily routines will never be the same. Walking down the streets and cutting thru the middle of a group of Savage Skulls, without them beating me up, will no longer be normal. Hearing the sounds of their gang fights on a hot summer night will no longer be the reason to interrupt my dreams. What about walking down to Westchester Ave and hangout at the library? I can’t do that anymore. I will have to find a new way to fill my afternoons.

Up ahead is the George Washington Bridge, I can see New Jersey on the other side. I closed my eyes, so as not to feel it and before I knew it we were in New Jersey. I must have fallen asleep in the car and missed the whole crossing because this place definitely looks different. We got off the Turnpike at exit 12 – The sign reads Carteret, New Jersey. This town is so small and surprisingly lined with a lot of trees.

Beaver's Pine Street HouseAlmost like Leave it to Beaver’s neighborhood – trees and white picket fences everywhere! The town even has a park – Central Park. – with a lake at its center.

We stop to get directions to the house at a corner gas station. “It freezes over in the winter, you know” the gas attendant yells out as he sees me staring at the lake. “We have a Winter festival there every year. Its great skating on the ice!” he adds. All of a sudden I felt a sense of peace come over me. I have not felt that in years. I would always see this type of town on the Beaver’s reruns but I never thought that I would ever see it in person for myself.

As we continue over to our house I breath in the air. It is not musty or smokey. Strangely enough, it smells refreshingly clean and fresh. To my right is the park, kids are playing baseball and on the left are detached homes with front porches just like in Leave it to Braver.

As we pull up to our new house, mom yells out “here it is!” Wow! the house even looks like Beaver’s Pine Street house, except ours are a row of townhouses. It has a front yard for the vegetable garden that mom always wanted!

Mom has always had big dreams – many people looked at them as unattainable. But her biggest dream – getting us out of the Bronx and finding a quiet place to call home – is now fulfilled!

We did it – my mom has realized her dream!

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Moving Away Again

I’m dreading this week! Friday we are moving out of the Bronx and going to some sub-urban hick town in New Jersey. There is nothing to do there. I am pissed off that my parents did not consider our feelings when making these plans. What am I going to tell my friends?

I walk outside and the streets are full of life. People everywhere and cars roll by non-stop. As I stand on my front stoop, I see Michael Giles walk out of his apartment building. Oh boy! here we go. “Hey Mike! what’s up?” Mike looks up at me and says “wanna play caps?” Immediately I run down the steps and we go across the way to the rubbles that once was an apartment building. We walk around looking for bottle caps. “Here’s one!” mike yells out. We walk over behind a large mound that would conceal our activities from the street and Mike pulls out a couple of matches and some wax. We melt the wax into the caps to give them some weight.

We spent the afternoon playing and flicking caps. At approximately six pm my mom yells out “Pablo, time to come in an eat!” so I say good by to Mike and throw in “Oh, by the way I am moving away forever on Friday. See you later.” As I run off Mike yells out “Excellent, I can come and visit you in Jersey during the summer break!”

Wow! this landed like a tons of bricks. I was not expecting “visit you in Jersey during Summer break.” I don’t know why but that did not sit well with me. How am I going to do a clean break if he is coming to visit? I don’t know why I needed a clean break. Maybe it’s the excitement of starting anew – OR – it just me not wanting to hurt every time I leave a friend behind. See I felt as a piece of me has been cut off and it hurts so bad. I didn’t want to hurt again.

See we’ve moved a few times. When we left Ecuador I left friends and family behind. When we moved here from Queens, I left friends behind. Or maybe it has something to do with leaving my two youngest sisters is Ecuador and we came here for a better life. Why can’t they have a ‘better life’ as well? I know I cried a lot when that happened. I felt as I have lost my sisters for ever. At the time I did not know that we would be seeing them again.

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