I don’t know about you, but I get all ‘nostalgic’ deep inside when I hear from someone I grew up with from the neighborhood. I guess that’s why I started this blog a little over two years ago; I missed my friends and the memories. (I relocated to East Lansing, Michigan in 1996. Despite what people may say, I’m not in the Witness Protection Program) As I climb the ladder of life (45 years young), I often think back to the experiences that helped shape who I am today.
Whether it’s a surprising e-mail from an old friend, a person asking me to accept a friend request on Facebook, or if someone happens to stumble upon the Container Diaries blog; and leaves a comment, it always brings a smile to my face, not to mention a warm feeling. (Yeah, that’s right, I said a warm feeling).
Catching up with friends I grew up with in the neighborhood is such a wonderful feeling; especially when it’s been over 30 years since I last spoke to that person. Hearing about how they are doing, how many kids they have, and of course their marital status. (Whoever thought they were going to get married while we were hanging out on 9th avenue or in the schoolyard?) Plus, how come no one ever told us how life was going to be in our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s? Shit, come to think of it, I’m still trying to figure out this game they call ‘life’.
It’s an amazing experience hearing from people who I made my first communion with in the 2nd grade at Holy Name. Hearing from people I argued with while playing slapball in Holy Name schoolyard and of course, people I spent a lot of time with in my teens and early 20’s. Three different stages of my life; people I lost touch with, but never forgot about them.
Brother Luck was on my side over those years to be able to share good and bad times on a daily basis with great people. Whether it was hanging out in Candy World on 9th avenue, playing basketball in the Boys schoolyard, flag football in Prospect Park on Sunday mornings, sitting in the back of Joe’s Pizza nursing a slice and a coke or playing basketball down East 5th street.
For all that know me, I was very passionate about sports. Basketball was my favorite activity. I wasn’t good enough to make it to the NBA (my dream), and my playing career didn’t last very long in high school (7 games at John Jay). But I played all the time. I went to so many places to play with different kids all over the city. I took the train to Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and even drove over the Bridge to Staten Island to play at Cromwell on Saturday mornings. I played ball down at the 9th street YMCA with guys from 5th and 7th avenue. I played in 51’s schoolyard on 5th avenue with guys from Park Slope and I also played in 230 park with some Mexican kids who befriended me as soon as they saw how much I loved to play.
Basketball connected me with a lot of people; it was a sturdy bridge that I built over time. The orange roundball helped me form numerous friendships. This mis-guided, insecure, angry, and envious teen was going with the flow for so many years; no direction, no goals, probably many thought, no chance. All I had was friends and basketball. Little did anyone know that things would turn out o.k. later on in life when I finally “got it.” (Thank you Mary Hogan, the most inspirational human being I ever came in contact with)
Facebook has brought me so much joy (as has this blog). I find myself checking them often (maybe too often). All the people who I have reconnected with through these two outlets have helped me look back at life and try to get a better understanding of who I was, where I’ve been and where I’m headed. I’ve connected with guys and girls I haven’t spoken to in many years. I’ve connected with guys and gals who I knew from saying hello around the neighborhood but never really had any kind of relationship with and of course there are the people who I always wanted to become friends with but just didn’t know how to. (Chalk that up to immaturity)
Big shout out to technology for helping me connect with the following: Alex McNeil, Teesha, Doris Bullock, Karen Artz, Liz Peterson from Prospect Avenue, Mary Kawas, Corrado, Paulie Ramos, Richie Ferraiolo, Frankie Lakat, Jerry Cole, Jimmy Vackner, Jimmy Cullen, (A.K.A., Spoony J), Rosemarie Taliercio, Fiore Tierno, Kevin Mahoney, Chris Johnson and many more.
Some of you know that I am currently writing a book (Miss Monzillo is probably so proud of me, I know I was one of her favorites). It’s a novel based on my life as a teenager. Some of the stories and characters will be familiar and some will not. I spent a lot of time with many different people; I guess chalk that one up to my ability to make new friends.
I’ve been fortunate over the years to have a couple of close friends who I keep in touch with on a daily basis like Glen Thomas of Sherman Street. It’s a great feeling knowing that all those years we spent together that to this day I can still pick the phone up and give him a call. (Not to mention a chat on FB) Ask yourself “how many people do you still talk with that you grew up with”? I think it’s important to reach out to that certain someone you spent a lot of time with; it brings back so many fabulous memories. Plus, maybe someone is going through a crisis and hearing from you may lift them up or even bring a much needed smile to their face.
Facebook and Container Diaries are two great avenues to get in touch with a friend from the past. Sign up now and search for someone’s name. (be careful what you tell that certain someone who you had a crush on at 12 years old) Check out the comments section after each blog entry here at Container Diaries and if you recognize someone posting a comment, reach out to that person. Why just the other day Sister Barbara formerly of H.N.S. left a comment on the blog; you remember Sister Barbara, dont you? She was the ‘friendly’ nun who DIDN”T wear Rosary beads around her neck.
Catch up with someone from back in the day, it’ll do wonders for you…
“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around. This ain’t the Mud Club, or CBGB’s, I ain’t got time for that now…”
-The Talking Heads, Life During Wartime
Catch me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @CoachFinamore