When I was 5 we moved to an urban section of Queens, NY. We lived on the second floor of a building with 2 sides connected by a courtyard. I practiced drawing all the time partially thanks to a printing press on the ground floor. We would grab discarded prints in huge stacks from their dumpster and draw on the backs.
The apartment we lived in had a bedroom for my older sister and I and one for my parents and baby brother. There was also a closed in porch at the back that became a bedroom for my grandparents and I remember the windows with curtains that joined our room and theirs. My grandparents’ room opened up onto a tar roof-deck and I can remember my grandfather fondly watching my baby brother play in a kiddy pool. I can also remember seeing a praying mantis for the first time on that roof.
I remember the handmade piñatas my mother made for birthday parties. I remember endless play with my sister. I remember my dad hard at work. I remember walking to Carvel with my grandparents on hot summer nights. I remember lots of neighborhood kids with street games and the corner store and deli and Stork’s Bakery around the corner. I remember my mother buying me rock candy on the walk home from kindergarten at St. Luke’s and us later making some.
I also remember being sick a lot and sitting by the window longing to go outside. I remember having my tonsils out and being afraid and feeling lonely when I woke up in a crib in a room full of babies. I remember coming home to lots of attention and new toys including The Sunshine Family that made it all better.
I think of that little girl and her happy life and hope my kids who are 4 and 6 remember these times as fondly one day.