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Friday, March 2, 2012

Walking through memories

“Take a walk with me. Let’s go back to the old neighborhood.” A text message appears on her cell phone from Jonas. Jonas is her childhood friend. Traditionally, every year, they take time from their busy schedules and revisit the old neighborhood. They lived and attended the same schools in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. After high school, Jonas went away to college while she stayed in Brooklyn and attended a community college. After college, Jonas moved to Sunnyside, Queens, and she moved to the Lower East Side, Manhattan. “Yeah sure, what time you wanna meet?” She texts him back. “Let’s go early, say around 10am?” Jonas always likes to do things in the morning. She texts him back “Okay,” and gets ready for their meeting.

“Hey there!” Jonas says while hugging her. “Hi, how are you?” She says smiling. They meet in front of their former school’s school yard. There’s a park next to the school yard with a swing set. They stand at the fence dividing the park and school yard. She looks around and takes in a deep breath. “It still looks the same doesn’t it Jonas?” He looks around then back at her, “It sure does. I can’t believe how small this place looks!” “Small?” She says surprisingly. Jonas laughs, “Of course silly, we were only what…thirteen years old then?” She laughs, “I guess you’re right!” They walk around the school yard reminiscing about their childhood, teachers they’ve had, and even the snacks they used to love eating. From the school yard they walk through the neighborhood, walking in a nearby park and visit a bodega they used to buy candy from. Jonas bought a bottle of water, but she didn’t buy anything. They continue to walk until they approach a block that changed their mood.

“We don’t have to go down there,” she says with concern. Jonas looks at her and says, “Nah, we should, we have to.” They begin to walk and see the building they used to hang out at. Looking up at the red brick building she says, “Wow, 874 looks so different doesn’t it?” Jonas doesn’t say a word, but she keeps talking. “I remember when we would sneak out and hang with B outside here. He would always make us laugh, remember?” Jonas mumbles, “Yeah.” She notices Jonas facial expression. He looks sad. “Jonas, are you alright?” Jonas smirks, “Why wouldn’t I be?” “Well you look upset.” She continues to look at him, but he looks at the building’s stoop. He says in a low voice, “I never got over that night.” She puts her hand on his shoulder allowing him to speak. “That night…we were just chillin outside, wasn’t bothering nobody. Then Chris and his crew rolls up crashing our party. I never liked that guy. Remember him?” She nods yes as Jonas continues. “I don’t know how it all got started, but I remember B pushing Chris off him. Next minute I know a gun goes off. I see B slide down the railing here…” Jonas walks up to the railing staring at it. “I watched him die here. That bastard killed my best friend! No jail time can bring B back.” She puts her arm around him feeling sad for his pain. In a low voice he glances at her, “Thank God you didn’t come out that night. I couldn’t bear losing you too.” Jonas quickly turns around and hugs her.

They hug for a while. Jonas pulls away and looks at her. “You know I never got over that. You’re the only friend from back then I’ve got left. Everyone’s gone now.” She holds his hand saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” They leave and continue their walk in the neighborhood. She tells Jonas about her recent train ride and her desire to hear music played on the train. She also tells him about the letter she received from Beverley. He met Beverley at a house warming her and Beverley had when they were roommates. Jonas never cared for Beverley describing her as being “too loud,” and “always in people’s business.” Sarcastically Jonas asks, “So how long did Bev have this letter huh?” She laughs saying, “According to her for some time, but you know how Bev is.” Jonas sucks his teeth and replies, “I’m shocked she didn’t read it beforehand! She’s so damn nosey!” “Come on Jonas, she’s not that bad. She was my roommate for a few years. She was always good to me, even during the bad times.” Jonas rolls his eyes, “So what’s this letter all about?” She shrugs her shoulders, “I’ve been trying to figure that out.” “Do you know who it’s from? Are you sure it’s not Bev playing a trick on you?” Jonas smirks. She looks serious and responds, “No, it’s no trick.” 

They approach the block where her building once stood. The building she grew up in burned down three years ago. The fire spread to two neighboring buildings. The three buildings were torn down shortly after the fire. An open space remains full of debris, graffiti, and garbage. She is sad to see the open space. “All my memories are in this pile of debris Jonas. How is that possible? She says. Jonas looks over to her. Before he says a word, he points to the pile of bricks that lie in the middle of the space. “You see those bricks? That’s all they are, just old bricks left to rot.” Her face frowns, and is not sure where Jonas is going with his analogy. He continues. “You grew up here, you had your good times and bad. Just like this building. But now it’s gone and there’s nothing you can do about it.” She interjects, “Jonas, what the hell are you talking about?” Jonas smiles at her, “Just because this building burned to the ground, these bricks remain. They didn’t burn. It’s like your memories, they’ll never die but you have to move on from the past. If not, you will rot like these bricks are doing.” She feels emotional but doesn’t cry. Instead she takes a deep breath. She looks at the pile of bricks while saying to Jonas, “Sometimes I feel like my life are those bricks. All I have are memories. They are a part of me, but despite my efforts I can’t move on from them.” They stand there in silence. Jonas turns to her giving her a hug.

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