We are moving-up, not necessarily away from meeting downtown where you’ll pass by a brownstone home. Its rich corner history—an ever-present glow to its muted exterior, bulky-banister, and steps that capture ice exceptionally well in winter. Spring and summer—they grow the perfect blend of street noise along with perky green leaves on bows of hundred-year-old trees. Voices come alive like jazz along a cheerful stroll to Court Street for gelato. Shadows—like maps with stories—line the street in kaleidoscope fashion, cast from a Brooklyn sun, bouncing-off of rooftops through sturdy branches.

Grandparents lived here once upon a time, speaking in Sicilian dialect; Aunts and uncles too, one up, one down, a buzzer between, and a holler from the back window.

The kids hand-hit a Spalding against the home’s lowest level. A spray of the hose across hot cement on each other’s red cheeks and sweated hair brought some relief on ninety-five degree July days.

The park across the street was empty, capturing heat like fire on a metal slide and jungle bars. Garden tomatoes nevertheless smiled perfectly plump while dangling from their vines.

An old lady on the ground level screamed—one hand rose with four fingers meeting her thumb as if to catch a fly in midair, “Rotten kids! Goa to school, eh? Learn a somethin’ would-ya!” (She’s got some time until September when she’ll miss them) Later she’ll worry about them overheating and offer freshly made lemon-aid with Anisette cookies.

Oh, how the children loved to laugh at her when she was riled-up, but not so much that it could be considered disrespectful. They knew better! Besides, her bluish-white hair offered a sense of security and comfort. Sometimes, Peppina, that was her name showed a picture of her late husband, Jimmy. A bricklayer.  “He died too young — a good man.” Her heart can never heal. So, forever, she wears a black dress.

“Adesso, Sta ‘zitto! Sto cercando di riposare. Sono già stanco di questa vita.”  She’d abruptly utter when her loneliness became too evident. So the children would leave Peppina to rest, and hit the streets for some summer adventure.

Inside, percolated coffee was always hot on the stove. A gentle hint of garlic remained in the air regularly sautéed in a cast-iron pot. Sweet tomato pastes sizzled every Sunday. Clean linens lay on beds Saturdays with the windows lifted for fresh air that takes away any sickness. An evening cigar enjoyed by an older man along with red wine from a jug. Genoa salami on semolina was a snack. Freshly cut flowers placed on tables. Spray starch and an iron made for perfectly crisp collars. Plastic-couch-covers were most uncomfortable. All of these things plus more, and the lives, laughter, sweat, and tears, from every soul that once lived there, fermented into the walls creating a singular most heavenly welcoming scent—home on the storytime street in Brooklyn, New York.

When you go, remember us on the Upper East Side—Hipsters and Yuppies, swank gathering in Williamsburg for an Acai bowl, Wi-Fi, a latte, live music, and a cold brew. We are all grown from the seeds of yesterday, planted—all avenues of the world!

Some new is noticeably better, but older is the wisdom that encapsulates us in goodness like love, and it saves us from getting too smitten with ourselves.

Steelworkers, bricklayers, electricians, carpenters, etc. built the bridges across boroughs and buildings to skies the limit for today’s youth that sometimes foolishly or arrogantly forgets a “Greatest Generation”—how they fought for us. I am not so forgetful.

The leaves are beginning to fall with age on their weary veins. They begin to match my weathered years but not my heart. A breeze carries memories across town. I can see clearly from one corner to the next that time has passed and we all have changed, but simultaneously remain the same.

No matter how far we go, our roots call us home.

I am happy to meet you there and reminisce about our travels.

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte ©2019 All Rights Reserved

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Photos I took of Carroll Park and at Clinton Street

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