“I”am a collective pronoun. My father told a bedtime story about a little woman who found a crooked sixpence she used to buy a pig. “The piggy could not get over the stile.” Her path home blocked she enlisted the help of a dog, a stick, fire, water, an ox, a butcher, a rope, a rat and a cat to begin a chain reaction so she could get home that night.
I live just over four miles south of East Harlem. I remember almost nothing of my family’s first apartments on a hun16 and a hun17 between the East River and Pleasant Avenue. Memory glimpses remain from our next apartment in a brownstone on a hun18 between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The initial strands of my confused girlhood resided at the corner building on hun19 and 2nd There we moved from the 5th to the 6th Floor and later to hun19 and Pleasant–than from Manhattan up to the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. A curtain divided the bedroom I shared with my younger brother. I painted the walls on my side brown with huge day-glow orange and pink pansies. My seventeenth summer I moved with my boyfriend to a roach infested studio on the top floor over a building with seafood restaurant on 34th Street and 2nd Avenue.While I was away from home my mother moved to Walton Avenue across from the Bronx Supreme Court.
New York was more New York at its filthiest, most dangerous in the ‘70s and ‘80. Roaches (an occasional rat) infested East Harlem’s tenements. Waxed floors, scoured sinks, poison laced slices of raw potatoes failed to eradicate the vermin. A year after my high school graduation I married my boyfriend. We rented an apartment in four floor walk-up on 83rd Street between First and York. After our breakup, I spontaneously moved to Fire Island, then Rome, Italy. To some I appear bourgeois, to some others weird.
Not everyone escapes. I thrived. Many excelled. The questions found in novels and biographies, narratives of solitude and alienation informed my anguished adolescence. My analogue youth fed on books (not film) (not TV) to move my green imagination beyond the walls of gender and class. My mother’s accidental agency gave me an unintended assist into the cultural upheaval of the ‘60s.
I write. I designed fabric and clothing. The narrative twist resolved over time. I wrote a manifesto against plot for my low-residency program at Goddard College where I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Decades earlier, I received an associate degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The thesis for my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from City College of New York explored my growing cultural awareness of women’s writing and centuries of marginalization of the “Other”. I write from an evolving perspective, I have no intent to persuade, but to engage in conversation with diverse, respectful perspectives.