Friday, December 10, 2004

A trip to NYC

I started out my life living on S. 19th Street in Newark, NJ. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I don't remember my mother ever living with us. For as long as I could remember, my grandmother took care of my brother & me, while my father was not home.

I have a memory of my mother from those very young days, perhaps when I was about 3 years old. She had long straight black hair. She came to pick me up and take me for a visit to her house. We rode a train to NYC. From what I know now, and the memories of what the train ride was like, I am guessing it was a PATH train.

I can't remember what we did or where we went when we got off the train, I just remember when it got dark and it was time for me to go to sleep. We went to her apartment building and began climbing the stairs to her floor. You always tell your children to hold the handrail when climbing up or down the stairs, for their own safety. I was in the habit of doing this, like I had been taught. But in this hallway, my mother told me not to touch the handrail because it was very dirty. So I climbed the stairs, following after her, not touching it, wondering what other kinds of icky surprises were waiting.

We entered her apartment and that was when I was presented with icky surprise number two: no electricity. There were 2 rooms that I could see, a kitchen with a large messy table in the middle, and a bedroom off to the right. I followed my mother into the bedroom. There was nothing but a twin size bed against one wall, and a table full of candles against the opposite wall. My mother lit all the candles and tucked me into her bed and disappeared.

I had a hard time going to sleep that night. The candles were pretty, and the flames were fun to look at, but they made creepy shadows on the walls. I did fall asleep, but woke up later on because I had to use the bathroom. The candles were all out and the room was rather dark except for the small amount of light that came from the street lights outside. My mother was still nowhere to be found. I thought she would have crawled in bed next to me when she was ready to sleep, but she didn't. I got out of the bed and began to search for the bathroom. I walked into the kitchen and saw a light coming from the other side of the room...the only electric light in the whole apartment.

The light was bright enough to allow me to see the kitchen pretty clearly. To my dismay, there were strange, long haired, bearded, snoring men sleeping all over the kitchen floor. The sight of them and the sounds of their snoring frightened me, making my heart pound. I carefully and quietly stepped around them and made my way across the room towards the light. I didn't know who they were or if they would hurt me if I accidentally woke any of them up. I wondered where my mother was and checked in the crowd of sleeping bodies to see if I could find her. She was nowhere to be seen.

When I finally reached the other side of the room and entered where the light was coming from, I discovered it was the bathroom. But this bathroom was rather odd. It didn't have a bathtub or even a sink. It was just this long narrow hallway with a toilet at the end. And not just any toilet, but a creepy toilet. Every toilet I had ever seen or used up until that point had a white toilet seat and it was round. This one had a black split seat, much like the kind you would find in a public bathroom. To me that wasn't normal and I was afraid of it; and I sure as hell wasn't going to sit on it.

I made my way back to the bedroom, carefully stepping around the sleeping men again, and climbed back into my mother's bed, still having the urge to use the bathroom. I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep.

My mother woke me up the next morning and discovered that I had wet her bed. Of course this made her angry...angry enough to spank my little wet bottom. I didn't know her well enough to be able to talk to her. I couldn't tell her about the creepy sleeping men I saw on the floor. I couldn't tell her about the scary toilet with the black seat. All I could do was just cry.

She said I needed a bath. I knew from last night's adventure, that her bathroom didn't have a bathtub, so I wondered where I was supposed to take my bath. She undressed me in the kitchen and popped me in the kitchen sink. Weird, but fun, I guess. I was happy to see that there was no sign of the creepy snoring men from the night before.

After I was all clean, dry, & dressed, we left the apartment. Going down the stairs is not exactly the same as going up. It's much more dangerous. I couldn't help but hold the handrail. When we got down to the bottom, my hand was black, as if I had been playing in ink. Angry mother again...another spanking.

We went to some sort of diner or luncheonette where she took me into the bathroom to wash my hands. They at least had a normal toilet in there, and I was happy about that. I sat at the counter and had one of those little mini boxes of cereal for breakfast. Maybe it was Frosted Flakes, or Fruit Loops, or Apple Jacks. I don't know. I don't remember.

She took me shopping and bought me a pair of shoes. They were pretty little shoes, black patent leather. But they didn't fit very well. As she walked down the street, I was chasing behind her, trying to keep up, with these shoes rubbing my heels and making every step hurt more than the last. I don't remember ever seeing these shoes again. I think my grandmother tossed them in the trash when I got home, after seeing the blisters on my feet.

I didn't see my mother again till I was about six years old.

My mother denies any of this as ever happening. She said she never had long black hair and never lived in an apartment that fit that description. But both my grandmother and stepmother confirmed much of this story as true. It was her, she did have long black hair, she did take me on a train to NYC, she did buy me little black shoes that gave me blisters, and I was traumatized enough from that visit not to have another one with her for many years. Not that she even bothered to try to see me, because she didn't.

1 comment:

Beamer said...

Wow. That is all I can think of saying. That is really a sad take and it is way too bad you had to endure that. I can't imagine ...