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When I was 9, my family moved from NYC to Miami. It was so sudden, I thought I had forgotten months of planning when in fact -it was a 2-week mission. My NYC life is mostly forgotten except for the stories told about the pictures found in mom’s photo albums which have served as fading place markers of a life I supposedly had. This mixed with a few feelings, and fewer memories.Our surrogate grandparents, The Hollins (for whom I am named after- Jeannette Hollins) taking us out for Pu Pu Platters, and sneaking a dollar into our little hands.
Walks to school with my dad singing Do-Re- Mi..
Running with my friends grabbing honeysuckle that grew in between our densely populated Jackson Heights apartment buildings.
Plastic Halloween masks.
The fire hydrant open in the summer. Our last apartment before the move, and very few others. It’s a short list.
My last memory is waking up in the dark, dressing up (as one does to fly in 1979), and, of course, applauding the pilots when we landed. Next, I am standing in front of a bank of pay phones. I was 9, I had no coins for the phones and no phone numbers for any of my friends. I lost everything.
For many years while living in Miami and being poor, New York was an unattainable location. We have a brief trip when I am 14. Yet again, not a trip designed for the kids to fatten up the memories or find old friends, I am not a factor in the trip planning equation, and even if I was… where would I begin?
It isn’t until I am in my mid-30s where I get to walk on that street again. Everything smaller and more crowded than I remember. It is that day where the smallest identity anchor is reset and brings some clarity and many questions; I am a New Yorker.
This Rules Girl is starting to get a clue.