The last time I was in apartment six in 1261 Leland Avenue was sometime in the summer of 1983. Momma had died the December before and we thought it would be good for Pop to go to a different apartment. My brother Michael helped him identify a nice place on Benedict Avenue right outside of Parkchester.
Notwithstanding what I just wrote in the first sentence, I have been back to Leland Avenue and 1261 many, many times in the last thirty-six years. In fact, I was there just a few hours ago.
I used to return at least once a month but it seems the last few weeks I have gone there once a week. Most times my parents are there but, oddly enough, none of my siblings ever accompany me.
It’s usually dark and quite often in the dead of night. The television is never on, nor is the radio. If I talk to my parents it is only briefly and I seem to wake up shortly after seeing them. This morning’s encounter was the oddest one yet. My mother died when she was seventy-five but in this morning’s dream, she appeared very old, in her nineties. My father, although I knew he was in the apartment, was not visible to me. He was in the front bedroom and I was in the living room talking with Momma.
We always called her Momma and my father was always called Daddy. Of course, once the grandkids came along they morphed into Nana and Pop. Even their children called them that whether or not the grandkids were around.
When Eileen and I were married we moved to Flushing in Queens. We stayed there for three years and then we moved to New Rochelle, just on the border with Larchmont. We lived in New Rochelle for four years.
I have never returned to Flushing or New Rochelle in my dreams.
From New Rochelle, we moved to East Quogue where we lived for over thirty-three years. In the two years since we moved to Florida, I have often dreamt about East Quogue.
I can only imagine that Leland Avenue and East Quogue have attachments still grabbing at me that Flushing and New Rochelle never had. It’s not that I wasn’t happy in either of these places. We had nice apartments and many good times with friends and family. Flushing was our first place when we were newly married. Life was easy and fun.
While living in New Rochelle I was still working in St. Vito’s and loving every minute of it. We did, however, grow up rapidly, forced to deal with crisis and life events that we hoped we could have put off for many years.
Shortly after moving to New Rochelle, we lost Eileen’s brother, Patrick, Then I lost my Momma. I think she would laugh if she knew I was still coming home to see her and Pop.
Leaving your parents when you reach a certain age is not only normal, it is expected. Leaving your children behind when you reach a certain age is not normal and I never would have expected that I would do that.
I know, lots of people leave their kids and move to Florida.
There wouldn’t be half the people down here if we all stayed back with our kids. So, dreaming about what I have left behind is probably not unusual. I don’t wake up sad or anything. In fact, dreaming about my parents allows me to enjoy their company however briefly.
Dreaming about East Quogue is mostly about remembering my youth and when my kids were young. Ironically, I also dream I am on a train about once a week.
Fortunately, we see our kids frequently considering the miles that separate us but that would have happened even in East Quogue. Life gets busier for them as they get older just as mine has grown lest hectic as I got older.
Sweet dreams everybody.