I'm stepping off the LIRR (the Long Island Railroad, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the acronym), onto a raised platform...arriving at Freeport, the town of my father’s humble beginnings. (Miss you, Daddy.)
The first thing I see is the roof of what used to be Freeport Bowl, where girls made out with boys in cars. “Midnight Oasis” on the radio. “Send your camel to bed.” How about that for a lyric?
Oh and that’s where Bob’s Deli was. I walked there with Eileen when we were finally allowed to walk anywhere—got my fix of Betty and Veronica from the comic stand.
There’s the boat yard where we sneaked cigarettes. I hated cigarettes. But the sneaking was fun.
Time to call Uber. Plus, if I don’t get to the Nautical Mile soon I’m gonna pee in my pants. Then again I'm really enjoying strolling down Memory Lane.
It isn’t the prettiest home town. But it’s my home town. Some people would say it feels like they never left. I don’t feel that way. I definitely left.
I lived around the corner from a park called Cow Meadow. I never understood why. There wasn’t a cow within 50 miles.
The Freeport Kidney Center? Wow! Excellent. Proud to be from a town that hosts a kidney center. walking....walking....
What? No more Carvel? Everyone wanted a job at Carvel. But they only hired cheerleaders. I guess cheerleaders were good for business. Some more walking...
There’s Rocky’s Central Serivce Station. My Dad loved Rocky. He trusted Rocky. Rocky cried when my Dad died. I wonder if Rocky's still alive. Maybe his son Roni is running the business now. Roni—who wanted to be a Rockstar. He looked and sounded like Bruce Springsteen. But as we all know you can’t make it by looking and sounding like somebody else. We have to be ourselves and hope that they get us.
OMG, Randall Park. This is where I discovered I ran faster than most of the 5th grade boys. I’m not sure if that was a good thing. Fuck! It was a good thing. Ladies: Don’t slow down for anyone!
And there's Giblyn Elementary School—all the classrooms had one little bathroom and my teacher Miss Nash, who clearly had it out for me, (I don’t know why—I was 10 years old for God sakes), gave Eric permission to use it while (she knew) I was in it. He opened the door and there I was sitting on the porcelain for the whole class to see. I mean WTF? My mother was never overly protective but when I told her what happened she yanked me out of Miss Nash’s class so fast, that bitch didn't know what hit her. Thank you, Mommy. (Miss you too).
God, Now I really have to pee. I think I might literally be peeing in my pants.
I hope they have lobster at Hudson’s. And a bathroom. Turning the corner. Almost there.
There’s where The Mermaid was. It got washed away in Sandy. I waitressed at the Mermaid summers out of college in order to afford that tomato red piece of crap VW—the one that wouldn't re-start if you turned it off while it was hot. Boyle, McCabe and I drove all the way to Frt. Lauderdale from U of Md. one spring break without turning the engine off once. One of those summers was the summer of Son of Sam and Long Island was a scary place for a girl with long dark hair. That was also the summer I was getting over the boy for whom I would write 100 songs.
I arrive at Hudsons. There are the gals. Hiiiiiiiiii!!!! HUGS. Where’s the effing ladies room?
We play ‘remember when’ and ‘what ever happened to him/her’? You look great. You haven’t changed a bit! It's all true. They seem more grounded. My Long Island accent (and attitude) is creeping back. The DJ is spinning a remix of "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough." I love it, but I can't hear anything anymore. So now I'm reading lips.
I get my lobster. Many beers. And then I tell them I want to visit the house I grew up in. One of the Lisas looks at me like I’m out of my mind. Then offers to drive.
There it is. Same aluminum siding...I trot up the front steps with my eyes closed. I know exactly how many steps there are. I’m nervous about ringing the bell but that’s what I’m here for. Ding Dong. Someone answers. And…she invites me in.
All the rooms are smaller than I remember. How did we fit so many people around a table at Thanksgiving? The wallpaper in the kitchen hasn't changed. There’s a ceiling fixture in the hallway, that my parents bought at Fortunoff’s circa 1972. Still there. Look!
My room! My room! Can I see my room? And the backyard where I did a million cartwheels, twirled my baton, celebrated my Sweet 16.
The wall colors are different. The carpet has been pulled up. But the ghost of my family is here. I can feel us. But it’s not ours anymore. This hometown, this house, that bedroom. I must let go.
I want to cry. But that wouldn’t be fair to the nice lady who let me in. I hold back the tears. I thank her. I hug her. I leave. I cry on the driveway walking back to Lisa’s car. But I'm happy.
Lisa drives me back to the LIRR so I can return to the city.
It's good to remember where you're from, what helped shape who you've become. Humbling to realize that towns live on without you. And that you live on after you leave your town.
The house that built me. The town that made me.
I loved this day.
You can go home again.
I recommend it highly.
Thanks for reading! Did I mention that Confessions of a Serial Songwriter is now an audio book, narrated by me? And that if you sign up for Audible you get your first book for free? It's all true...and also...feel free to Sign up for this Blog! Please give a like to my Serial Songwriter Facebook Page, Follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Check out my whole website.