Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back In Cherry Heights, Running, Driving, and Walking Down Memory Lane and Feeling My Way to the Halfway to 90 Point

I saw on Facebook that Alex Fried's daughter wished him a halfway to 90th birthday (at 45). That will be me in February. I thought about this yesterday when I ran four miles through Cherry Heights, the same streets I began running in high school, the same roads that have been here for me through college at Binghamton and Louisville, the years I was traveling back and forth from teaching days at the Brown School, my return to Syracuse University for my doctorate, and now with my visits from Connecticut.

I suppose everyone feels their neighborhood where they grew up is still their neighborhood. I remember in high school I always said that age 15 was the perfect year because it was the last summer before starting jobs and having time taken away from us. Those were the summers of Duncowing football and Peter Caroli wiffleball park. They were days hopping from pool to pool and Southkirk Shores with the Marleys. The nights of truth or dare, Uno, pitch, and rummy.

Up until 15 we roller skated, road ten speeds, pulled one another by rope, and played Ghost in the Grave Yard and Hide and Go Seek. These games, of course, turned into foolish walks and talks under the street lights at night, which led to Vic Ciccerelli parties, and eventually driving licenses and mingling with kids from other areas of Cicero and Clay. But the Cherry Heights memories are most central.

Running by the Delucias, Ryans, and Messinas. Seeing Kirsten's house, Alex's house, John Dellavechio's house, Rich Hoppe's and Rick Chandler's. Yesterday I also ran by Kelly Bannon's Michelle Bower's and Denise D'Angelo's. I went across Caughednoy, over to Spruce Hill, and onward to Fortuna and Luchessi.

As the pace moves forward, I am thinking about childhood parties with the Deerstines, Nikoloffs, Kralemans, Shaeffers and Altiers. It brings out the later years when the world revolved around Karl and all the beer that could be drunk as neighbors gathered by the garbage cans.

Kickball in the street and so many baseball games.

All that comes back every time I return to Central New York. And I pass all the new generations, and I think, "Dude, you're an old guy now." There have been 26 graduating classes from CNS since our 1990 departure, including my niece's. Even so, it feels like the neighborhood still belongs to those of us that ruled it from 1984 to 1990. I can't imagine there was a better crew of kids than us or that others had as much fun, both innocent and adolescent, than we did when we romped the streets.

How many times did we have to shuffle the cars in our driveway? How many times did I jump in the pool after I got home from working at Great Northern Mall? How many shoes did we wear thin as we did lap after lap after lap of Amalfi Drive? The home run derby marathons...cutting through Future...and sneaking to Penn Can Mall or A&Ws for their 3 cheeseburgers for a $1 days. Of course, we grew more adventurous as we got older and road our bikes to Hiller Heights and the Junior High School, Gillette Road and even Mattydale.

Now, I come for the Christmas holiday and when lucky, like now, for a week in the summer. I expect to see all the same people as I'm running or walking the dog: Bobby, Carmen, Peter Boy, Jimmy, Jason...all the usuals. I expect to see the same parents out in the yards, but it has all changed. It is surreal, too, to know that so much life has occurred since those days, but when I return I expect it to be the same as it always was...

the streets I walked with Dusty...the ones with Tizzy...Smoker....Juliette Catherine Alanis Madonna Scrappy Doo Olivia Houdini Dennis...Baby...and now Glamis.

And I see myself in the same mirrors that hang in the home of my parents and reflect on the aging process...long hair...buzz cuts...and now the grays. It really does go by way too fast.

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