The last snowstorm we had was a “snow day” for me as well, that’s because Avon Products, (where I work at Rockefeller Center) was closed for the day. Yes, today I’ll be home along with the entire family, and enjoy the latest 19 inches of freshly fallen Kensington, Brooklyn snow.
And I don’t know what it is about a snowstorm, but somehow it just reminds me of being a kid again. Building a snowman with my dad and uncle in our back yard, icing over Neil O’Callaghan’s back yard with a garden hose and playing hockey, or maybe just having a good old snowball fight and getting my left ear hit by Steve McNally. Oh, and when Stevie hit my ear, red blood just started gushing down my jacket and onto the virgin white snow. A real nice sight for the Blanks who were probably watching from the porch of 403 East Fourth, even though it was the middle of winter back in 1969. But hey, Mister and Mrs. Blank were always on their porch, no matter what the weather.
And the funny thing is I can stand on every single spot where these things took place. A 53 year old man can just walk down his front stoop and find the spot where he built that snowman with his dad 50 years ago, got hit by Steve 43 years ago, or played hockey in Neil’s back yard 35 years ago. No, no long flight back to New York, no long drive from Long Island, Staten Island, or the Virgin Islands. No, tears welling up in my eyes because I’m "coming home" to the house I grew up in as a kid and “it will all be so wonderful to see it again” kind of stuff.
No, none of that’s ever going to happen, because I just never left, and I still live in the same house that my mom carried me into a few days after I was born at Methodist in Park Slope back in 1957.
Is it sad? Is it odd? Is it wonderful?
Or am I just one of those people who just can’t conform to any type of change whatsoever?
Oh right, I’ve been with the same company for 27 years. Have the same friends for 53 years. Call my cousin Pete almost every since I learned how to use a phone. And I even have the same wife for the past 12 years. And that’s a real accomplishment for me because I was never very good with having the same wife or girlfriend for an extended period of time you know.
So what gives here? Is it that I just love Brooklyn so much and would never think of living anywhere else? Is it that I would hate everything else? Or was it a “genius” real estate move that I made in 1990 when I bought my house from my aunt and uncle that would keep me here for good?
Well, what is it I ask?
Ok, I'm waiting
Waiting, waiting, waiting...
And the answer is...
I HATE CHANGE
I think that’s it. Nothing else, nothing genius, nothing to read between the lines.
I just hate change, period.
Same friends, Same block, Same house, Same kids, Same wife, Same cars, Same job, Same hockey stick and goalie mask.
Oh, and same Brooklyn.
So the other day during the snowstorm I was helping my friend of 53 years, “The Prophet” or “The Rev” as I know him, shovel out his car from a four-foot snow bank, compliments of NYC Sanitation plow that just rolled on by. The “Rev” is now something like 81 years old you know and he was telling my next-door neighbor about how long he has known me.
And for anyone who doesn't know "The Rev" he has been a fixture on my block ever since I was a little baby. He stands about six foot three, only wears white, and can be seen cleaning and polishing his long Caddie or Lincoln every day. He looks something like Jeffery Holder who used to do those "Cola Nut" commercials back in the 70's and has the loudest booming voice you have ever heard. Yes, the Rev or the Prophet Allen is straight out of "Central Casting" and could probably have been in the movies if he ever lived in Hollywood.
“You see this man? I know this man since he was a little baby, a little boy playing here on the street with his brother” "Holding his mommy's hand while walking down the block"
At this point the “Prophet” was on a roll and screaming at the top of his lungs like he usually does on East Fourth Street in front of the Margaret Court on any given day.
And me, well I was just smiling and feeling lucky. Felling like the “Luckiest man on the face of the Earth” Knowing the "Rev" all these years and still seeing him every single day. And hoping that he lives forever, because East Fourth would never be the same if he wasn't there in front of the Margaret Court polishing his car. And neither would I.
Still living on the block I grew up on, still driving by PS 179 every day and remembering my first day of kindergarten. Walking by the very same spot where my uncle taught me how to ride a bike in front of 396 East Fourth. Or my backyard where I built that snowman back in 1963. Yes a collection of memories that are all still here right in front of my eyes every day, some beautiful, some tragic, some sad and some glorious.
All without a flight from the West Coast or a drive up from Florida.
No, just open my front curtains from my apartment and they are all there to see.
Yes, some things just never change you know. And sometimes the lack of change is just beautiful, wonderful, and glorious.
And I would never want it any other way, as long as I live here in Brooklyn, the only home I have ever known.