Up until I was eight years old, my family lived in a semi-community type suburban street. I lived across from and near where friends at my elementary school lived. The house me and my parents lived in was actually a duplex that was owned by the family that lived upstairs from us. But from the perspective of my childhood eyes, we were all friends and we all knew each other and were one big community. I grew up this way in my very early years so I never really imagined another world where kids did not have this.
Having said that, though I had no idea I was any of this, I was a very “rigid” and “shy” kid who everyone saw as a “loner” despite me knowing the kids around me and us playing all the time in the backyard, front yard and driveways of our houses. But I digress. Life for the most part was good. That’s how I (if I could emphasize the already capital “I” I would) saw it as a kid.
By the time I was eight years old, the family we were “friends with” upstairs ended up telling my parents at the very last minute they were gonna sell the house. The whole house. We were forced to move. This was not the first time this would happen by the way. It would become a recurring theme (spoiler alert) in my adolescent years. Having said that I was going through a very slightly vulnerable time in the third grade because of an extremely non-kid-friendly, intimidating, high-standards teacher that scared the shit out of me in the beginning of the year (and probably the whole year to be honest, so it wouldn’t surprise me with how I view school that she would eventually become the principal….but I digress). Anyway during this year I did start noticing that I was rigid (for real this time) and moving to a new house, even in the same town, took some getting used to. Familiar environments meant a lot to me and being in new places were very scary to me. This did not last though. Not in the least bit. Because after the school year ended (this would be the early summer of 1997), my 9th birthday was slowly coming up and while it was a tough year education-wise, I did make a lot of friends within the past two years that were far more than just “play mates”. There was even a nearby bowling alley/roller-rink/arcade that so many kids at my school celebrated birthdays at. And the parents videotaped all of the fun. My parents didn’t have a camcorder at the time (gotta love the primitive 90s technology) so they rented one from a media center after I begged repeatedly for me and all my buddies to go to this now long-gone (it’s been gone for 17 years now) place I mentioned earlier to celebrate my 9th birthday. It was one of my earliest/fondest memories. I felt like one of the cool kids, which I always was, despite the “challenges” many parents and teachers perceived from me at the time.
I made so many friends at this time. It was crazy. Everything I went to, (school, day camp etc) was one big community. Just writing this now reminds me of everything I once had as a kid I took for granted because it was the first life I knew. My fourth grade year was what I consider the best year of my life. Every time I listen to nostalgia related music, it is usually songs that were on the radio at that time. Just everything about that year was like a movie in my mind. One that had very little conflict. To think it was just one year I cannot even imagine being true. It was an era that I never wanted to end and it felt like it never would.
Then one day in the late spring of 1998, the landlord of the house we were living in for a year now gave my parents some sudden, last-minute news. Like the name of the Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz rap song that was on the radio a lot at that time, this was a very very bad case of “Deja Vu”…..(to be cont’d)