Unaccomplished Memoirs, Pt. 2

April 23, 2011

A couple years ago, I wrote up a project that was intended to be a memoir about my life thus far. Having accomplished very little of any real consequence, I shamelessly and facetiously embellished a few small things that I remembered from my youth. I recently rediscovered said personal memoirs and have decided to present them to the world, for the entertainment of the masses, free of charge. Bon appétit.

Part I

Part II

Growing up, I often heard Frank Sinatra’s mellow voice floating and echoing through the rooms of my family’s house.  It was the same when I went to my grandparents’ place, and when I was dragged along to meet their old, Italian friends.  Frank was a big deal to me, always familiar.  I loved the musical images of Aprils in Paris, bars in far Bombay, and particularly the city that doesn’t sleep.  I didn’t know what it was (and I still don’t), but something strange would come over me when I would hear him belting out “New York, New York”.  The song was so dramatic and just cheesy enough to really get me going.  I felt a little restless thinking about the Big Apple, the center of it all, the cultural Mecca of the western world, as I sat on the floor of my living room trying to thwart Bowser and his army of Koopas.

Life in the suburbs really was like the cliché of living in a bubble.  Every morning I got up, my mom handed me my bag lunch, and I hopped on the school bus to my quiet little elementary school.  I saw the same kids every day, and I knew all of them.  After school, I’d play with some friends in the backyard or watch TV until it was dark outside.  Then the day was essentially over and I would go to bed.  Nothing happens in the suburbs past nine PM.  As far as I knew, the rest of the world was the same way.

Because I had only had this perspective my whole life, I couldn’t really guess what New York City was like.  To me, it was a faraway place so shrouded in fantasy that it might as well have been a fairy tale.  I figured I’d never see Times Square because I was partly convinced it didn’t actually exist.  Of course, my naivety was proved wrong when my parents announced we would be going there to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I think I was about ten years old when my little brother and I were loaded into a rented minivan and embarked on a nearly seven-hour drive to New York.  That was the longest trip I could ever imagine taking.  It was unfathomable.  I tried calculating how much Nickelodeon I could have watched in that span of time.  I determined it was a lot.  Now it takes me almost six hours to drive to or from school, and that seems like nothing anymore.  Funny how perceptions change.

Anyway, I ended up sleeping through most of the ride.  I nodded off somewhere in central Pennsylvania.  The last thing I remembered seeing was a big, green sign for the Harrisburg exit, where I had been before to visit my uncle.  The next thing I knew, it was dark outside and the distant city skyline was fast approaching before our van ducked into a long, dim tunnel.  My parents told me we were traveling underneath the Hudson River.  I figured that was some sort of moat.  I was still drowsy.  Several minutes later, we emerged before the towering New York City, in all its grand majesty.

I wasn’t sleepy anymore.  In fact, I was suddenly wide awake.  There were so many people, so many lights, so many buildings, so much going on!  How could I sleep?  Why would I want to?  All this time I had been going to bed at night…look what I was missing!  I remembered all the great things Frank said about this place, and he was right.

I stared wide-eyed out the car window, mesmerized by everything around me:  the neon lights, office windows, women in high heels, taxi cabs, giant billboards.  Try as I might, I couldn’t even see the tops of some of the skyscrapers.  It was overwhelming and over-stimulating, but I loved it.  Unfortunately, we arrived at our hotel much too soon, and it looked as if I’d yet again be going to bed at night.  Rats.

When the morning came around, I was revved up and ready to go.  That nap the day before did me well.  My family and I had breakfast in the hotel.  Boring.  Soon enough, though, we stepped through the revolving glass doors and onto the bustling sidewalk.  I did feel pleased with myself for knowing how to navigate a revolving door; my mom’s work had one, and I had been trained well.  The similarities to home ended there.

Once outside, I was in a world I had previously only hazily imagined.  The crisp air smelled vaguely like hot dogs, and wisps of steam rose from manhole covers on the street.  And then there were the people.  Look at all of them!  As far as I could see, bodies were hurriedly moving up and down the sides of the street, no doubt off to do very important things.  I could only speculate the significant business deals these people would be making today.  I had no idea who they were, and they didn’t care who I was.  I was okay with that.  At home, everything was familiar, safe.  Here, everything was brand new.  Everything was exciting.  It was an adventure.  Until then I had never comprehended how many people were in the world – I was surrounded by the same ones every day.  Now I was realizing how big the world really was.

All at once, I realized how boring home was.  Sure it was comfortable, but it sure was stale.  How could I be bored in a place like New York?  What were other places in the world like?  Carmen Sandiego really hadn’t prepared me for this.  I had a brand new point of view.  I was beginning to appreciate the scope of the world, and at the same time I was stunned and baffled by its utter enormity.  There was so much to experience, so much to explore, and so much to discover.  Tally-ho!


2 Responses to “Unaccomplished Memoirs, Pt. 2”

  1. This is charming!
    Stephen, thank you for following moi : )
    You are quite the storyteller . .

  2. It can be better if given a much clear strucure. Well, it’s already really nice.


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