“So I took off running / I ran over the hills / My odyssey through concrete and steel / Gonna keep on going / I don’t wanna stand still / Gonna keep on going / I don’t wanna stand still.”
I thought an appropriate way to start this new column would be with something known my whole life, family, which has become an unknown due to the dismantlement of the matriarchs.
Today was grandmother’s birthday; Thursday marked the four-year anniversary of my mother’s death. While I’m not ritualistic or big on cemeteries, I felt a strong desire to visit their shared plot. And while I’m not usually superstitious either, I have noticed the number 11 having a significance throughout my life; their plot location at the very meeting of these two important numbers.
The cemetery, located in Middle Village, Queens, is also within walking distance from my grandmother’s house. My grandmother died just 4 months before my mother, both women suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s respectively, nearly 30 years apart in age. My aunt, uncle and cousin still live there, keeping my grandmother’s apartment on the second floor eerily intact. Lately I have been having reoccurring dreams about this house; I knew eventually I would have to go back.
Having been raised here almost as much as my own home, there are so many memories living within these walls. The dolls behind glass looking out at me, chachkies and knick-knacks; everything still in its place. The lingering smell of Sunday dinners, holidays, and cooking; stored within these familiar dishes.
This is the mural I stared at for hours as a kid, hands tucked under my head as I lay on the floor, feet propped riskily on top of grandma’s perfect sofa. Without younger siblings or cousins to play with, I would create scenes within the wallpaper’s landscape again and again; its beauty still vibrant and as fresh as the day she got it. The origin of my obsession with chandeliers still dangles just above it.
I was also surprised by something so familiar and yet foreign to me now: homemade tomato sauce made by my aunt and shared with my cousin, just like the good old days of long ago.
This Heartless Bastard song not only kick-starts what I hope to be more exploration, but every word rings true as this particular point in my currently transitioning life: “Oh, I’m longing to be, out in the sweet unknown. I’m gonna keep on going, I don’t wanna stand still. Out in the sweet unknown.”
While I nostalgically dream about these known times that have long since passed, one thing I do not miss: being that scared little child, so afraid of everyone and everything. Here’s to the risks and the adventures; to finally embracing a life less travelled and enjoying the journey, wherever it may take me. Here is to the sweet unknown.
“I could do all these things. Oh, I have the power.”