This morning, the boys and I met my parents for breakfast at a deli in Pikesville. It was delicious. I really love breakfast. At this place, Suburban House, they serve Bagel Bazaar (bizarre?) which is a bagel cut in thirds (rather than halves) and topped with egg, cheese and Canadian bacon. Yum. Trying to make up for the eating spree that I’ve been on lately, ordered a poached egg instead. Sigh.
After breakfast, I drove the boys past the house that I grew up in. See it up there? That was my house. It was a happy place. It looks almost exactly as it did when we lived there. (My parents sold it in around 1988.) The three huge weeping willows out back are gone. I think one or more died before my parents even moved. Oh, and there’s a flag decal on the living room window. That’s new.
But I was thrilled to see the iron triangle still hanging outside the kitchen door. The triangle that my mother would ring so we’d come in from whiffle ball or whatever to get ready for dinner or go to bed. I loved that triangle. It always seemed so cowboy to me.
Over the summer before first grade, a family with a bunch of boys moved into the huge old house across the street. It was the house that originally owned all the land. Adam was my age. The first time I went there, I met his father. His father was missing an arm. Being about 5 years old, I asked him where his arm was. And he told me he lost it in the war. I nodded. But it was years before I realized what that meant. I always wondered how one could lose an appendage. It was attached, after all.
One day, after school started that year, my mother was watching me walk home from school with Adam, from that side kitchen door. And, as she vividly remembers, she watched me lift my skirt to show him my underwear. I can’t remember why I did that, but hey, he probably asked. Nice, huh?
And then about a month later, he stopped picking me up to walk to school. It was just after Rosh Hashana. From what I gathered, he didn’t realize I was Jewish or he’d have never chosen me for a friend in the first place. And here, I’d shown him my undies. I made very sure not to show them to any anti-Semites after that. I’m a quick study.
So back to today. I drove the boys past my friend Sarah’s house. And showed them the houses of my grandparents, and my mother’s two sisters. We were all within a couple blocks – all the cousins. It was really nice. The boys were amazed at how close we all lived to each other. And they thought is was really neat to see where we all lived.
I work very hard to be sure my kids see their grandparents and their cousins. But it’s not the same as what I was so lucky as to have. When my parents were kids, most families lived in close proximity. They ran businesses together, ate together, were totally a part of each others’ every day lives. We were one step away from that growing up.
And now, we’re more steps away than I can count.
And I think it’s kind of sad.