I was very homesick yesterday, but jumping into the car and taking a quick ride to New York was out of the question; it takes about fifteen hours for the drive and I was expecting a friend to come over for Christmas dinner. The need to see home, however, was strong, too strong to ignore, although I could not understand why. I have lived in Kentucky for nine, happy years and had come to think of this as home; yet, there was a small, young child inside me, insisting on going home to New York.
I wanted to see the ice skaters at the Wollman Memorial Rink in Central Park and go visit the Santa at Macy’s 34th Street. I needed to see stretches of the East River from the 23rd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge, but most of all I wanted to be at the corner of at 903 Avenue St. John and Prospect Avenue in the Bronx. Yes, that would be home—although I had not been there in fifty years.
With just a couple of hours free, I pulled out my laptop, fired up Google Earth and inserted the address I remembered. In the blink of an eye I flew at dizzying speeds, back to my childhood home in the Bronx. Suddenly, I gasped; standing there before me was the building I remember and it was just as I remembered it.
It was shuttered and marked with graffiti; its cheerful, redbrick paint and white trim stood out in sharp contrast to the beige buildings on either side. The neighborhood bar on the corner was still there—only now its name was “Lucky 7 Bar.” On the other side of my building—where the doctor’s office used to be on the ground floor, the doctor who had rushed to my bedside with his black bag when my mother had called that one time the fever was so strong I could not stand— yes, that building was still there too.
Suddenly, with the flick of the wrist, there was another burst of speed. I had miscalculated, somehow, and I also did not have the wherewithal to slow down the backward momentum of the years. I traveled back in time to the August day in 1944 when my brother was born. I was three years old again, sitting on the stoop of the building, waiting.