I signed up for a blogspot account sometime during the summer of 2006. I never posted.
This past August, I revisited and retitled my blogless blog...and never posted.
So here I am again. This time is a little different, though. Rather than hiding behind anonymity, which proved particularly effective -- doubly so, in fact, since on top of that I never posted -- I now stand before you naked. Literally, that wouldn't be a pretty sight these days (but one hell of an appetite supressor), but since I mean it figuratively, we both can manage to live with that image. What I mean is, I am actually posting under my own, actual name. And for me, that's naked enough.
Like most people, I don't know where to begin. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, first in what is now a "gentrified" neighborhood (Prospect Heights, across from The Brooklyn Museum), but that only lasted until I was six years old. While the so-called "white flight" of the 1960s took most upwardly-mobile people to the suburbs of Long Island and Westchester, my family ended up in southern Brooklyn, far from the New York City skyline we had been able to glimpse from the corner of Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue. The reason for this was plain: We were anything but upwardly mobile, at least not in the sense that most people associate with the term. My parents bought a house -- with subway tracks behind it and a bus route in front of it -- a practical move in more than one way. We didn't have a car, and would never have a car. Neither one of my parents even knew how to drive. My father was an immigrant who worked cutting sheet metal in a factory in Greenpoint. He took trains into Manhattan, and another one back into Brooklyn, since Greenpoint was on another line, easily accessible by car, but a long and arduous journey by subway. But he never complained. My mother, on the other hand, was the daughter of a New York City cabbie, cigar in his mouth, tweed cap on his head, driving gloves on his hands, who sat behind the wheel of the most immaculately beautiful Checker cab imaginable. For years I figured that her reluctance to drive was because she was accustomed to being squired around by her father, but only recently -- in the past three or so years -- have I realized that this was yet one more thing she never bothered trying to accomplish, because one little mishap would have possibly uncovered her all-too-human potential for fallibility. But that is another story. And not an unimportant one.
Still, this marked my descent into the mouth of madness, as southern Brooklyn isn't at all like the Brooklyn glorified by hipsters, yuppies, realtors and bloggers. There are different Brooklyns, and the one I eventually ended up in wasn't one of bookstores and coffeehouses and chic boutiques; it was, and still is, an open-air mental institution. People don't age gracefully there; they ferment. They mutter to themselves, dragging or pushing well-worn shopping carts -- not of the grocery store variety, but the kind most Americans have never even seen -- living out their life sentences, rotting from the outside in. It's an existence that corrodes you, and I couldn't wait to escape.
While I dreamed of my eventual escape, a sign was revealed before me, and it gave me hope. It read, "Coming Soon: 7-11" and with that, I almost felt like a real American.