335 East 13th

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

I'm in my 50s now, but I often find myself reminiscing about my younger years. I grew up with alcoholic parents, which affected me a great deal. Even all these years later, I still struggle with that.

The first weekend of 1992 in New York City was cold. Really the entire winter was cold, and the crack in the bedroom window of my apartment often made it feel like I was sleeping outside. It was miserable, but I didn't have the money to deal with it. And really, it wasn't all bad. Lisa clung to me tightly under the covers, absorbing my body heat as she gently slept. I listened to her breathe methodically, while conversations from passersby quickly walking down 13th Street floated up to my 4th floor window and seeped into the crack. Drunken laughter, drug dealers making sales, romantic whispers between couples, all clearly audible in my dark, cold bedroom.
 
Just a few months earlier, I lived with my parents in the suburban home I grew up in. I had just finished college, but couldn't seem to get started in life. I slept until noon most days in my childhood bedroom, and avoided my parents and their nightly drunken arguments. I listened to The Smiths every day, sharing my loneliness with Morrissey. His longing for love was so relatable. I just wanted to hold someone and be held. But instead, my only social interaction was pouring my Mom a drink every night after my Dad had passed out. We'd make awkward conversation while the liquor flowed into her glass. I didn't know when to stop and would wait for her signal. It always came at the last possible second, just before the alcohol spilled over the top. "That's good", she'd say reassuringly. 
 
Just before Thanksgiving, a job opportunity in the city fell into my lap, as well as an apartment. Things moved very quickly. In a matter of a week, I was packing my Smiths CDs and the rest of my modest possessions and leaving my childhood home. I quickly met Lisa, and stopped listening to The Smiths. This night in early January was exactly what I had been longing for just a few months prior. Lisa's breast rested on my chest, her leg draped over mine, her arm stretched across my body, the tip of her nose grazing my ear and her breath tickling my neck. As Morrissey sang, I realized I could never, never, never go back home again. And that thought kept me awake. I was getting exactly what I wanted, but I found myself thinking about my mother, wondering who was filling her glass every night. And it filled me with such immense sadness.
 
Less than 2 years later, my mother was dead.  Lisa was gone. I moved to 90th Street. I missed the crack in the window. I missed Lisa. I missed being my mother's bartender. I was quickly growing a callous around my heart. Morrissey's lyrics sounded vapid and childish. I still couldn't go home again.


Submitted: January 10, 2021

© Copyright 2021 335East13th. All rights reserved.

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