The Long Way Home


Broadway & Second
August 12, 2011, 7:02 AM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , , ,

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In the middle of a crushingly busy day, I received a text from my sister. It was an image of a name carved into cement and when I looked closely at the tiny phone screen, I realized it was our mother’s name, a small bright spot of hope in an emotionally trying week. My sister had walked around one of our old neighborhoods in Coraopolis with my niece, showing her the apartment we lived in on the corner of Broadway and Second streets when she found it. I had forgotten that my mother had done this, along with her friend, who had traced “Jeff Loves Maureen 1984” in the pavement close to my mother’s name. My mother was only 33, younger than I am now, but too old to stir up this kind of mischief. The landlord had yelled at her in a mix of Italian and English, but secretly, I think he got a kick out of it because it’s still there after all this time. A few nights ago, I had to take a friend out to the airport, so I drove by beforehand to see it for myself. The house looks mostly the same, brown trim replacing the green, and the new tenants added a porch swing. The cottage next to it is gone, the one where we imagined a witch lived. Our Sicilian neighbor’s house is abandoned, but I remember her bent in black dress and stockings, a scarf tied under her chin, her once-lush garden overgrown with knee-high grass and caged in a chain-link fence. The streets feel smaller and broken. I had lived for so many years in memory, that I had forgotten this was a real place, somewhere I used to call home.

where the witch once lived

a current resident who talked with us about the old neighborhood

the kitten that followed us everywhere

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Beautiful
July 17, 2011, 9:57 AM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , ,

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The name Linda in its Germanic roots means, soft, tender, but my mother preferred the Spanish version, beautiful. We were often reminded of her beauty when men stopped to chat with her while on a  mundane trip to the  grocery store, or friends of ours — your mother, she’s so young-looking. I was proud and confused by my mother’s beauty because for all the attention she received, she was never satisfied with the way she looked. She was always searching, for something, but I never knew what. I go back to before I was born, I root through images. I see a young woman who took ceramic classes, writing workshops, drawing lessons. I see trips to the beach and beautiful dresses that I wish she had saved for me. I knew an older woman who lived deep in the past, wondering what she’d be when she grew up.

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