If Eri’s Now 30, What Does That Mean For Me/Us?

May 22, 2014

Really, I’ve written about this before, five years ago, right after Eri turned twenty-five. Everything I wrote about Eri in “The Meaning of Eri’s 25th” is still applicable today. I only have a few things to add to that earlier post. First, Happy Birthday, Bro!!! Welcome to the second tier of youth, the one for folks over thirty, but not yet middle-aged! For the first time ever, we’re in the same general age category, until I turn forty-six, a year and seven months from now – yay!

Second, the fact that you’re thirty today is a reminder of how long I’ve been doing certain things. Like the fact that I’ve been cooking for myself, for family and for other people for thirty years. And that I’ve been at least six feet tall for a bit more than thirty years. And that I’d turned to Christianity a couple of months before Eri’s birth, a bit more than thirty years ago. All of it serves as a reminder that Donald 1.0 had been in the midst of evolution right around your birth.

Third and maybe just as important, the fact that it’s never too late in life to achieve your dreams. That I’m able to writer about my experiences — and our family — these days with commitment was something I couldn’t even conceive as a dream thirty years ago. By May ’84, I’d buried that knowledge of myself as a writer deep within my spirit and soul, so much so that I rarely thought about writing anything again until I was nearly twenty. Imagine a situation so deep that an aspiring writer can’t articulate the words necessary in which to write. I didn’t have to imagine it, though.

I hope that you Eri — in fact, our other brothers Maurice, Yiscoc and Darren, too — will find the strength and energy to do your dreams, to harness what remains of our dwindling youth before our hair is completely gray. I will do the same.


Sweet and Sour 16

December 27, 2010

Slice of cake nicer looking, but similar in style to cake I had 25 years ago, December 27, 2010. Source: http://www.cake-decorating-corner.com

Happy forty-first birthday to me! Competing with the savior of humanity on the last week of the year has never been easy. Most years, there’s been no contest between the observed celebration of Jesus’ birth and the date of my actual birth. But the second half of my growing up years were the worst in terms of how I saw my birthday. From ’78 to ’87, there were two Happy Birthdays for me: one in ’79, and one in ’85. The one that occurred twenty-five years ago, I’d rather forget.

My sixteenth birthday, the twenty-seventh of December, was the first time since I turned nine that anyone bothered to give me a cake. This was a spontaneous decision, as I sat around 616 all day with little to do but watch after my younger siblings. Mom and Maurice agreed to buy me a birthday cake. Since it was my abusive stepfather’s money, I didn’t want any cake. I especially didn’t want the Carvel ice cream cake he thought I should have. I mean, it was a cold last Friday in December day, and all he could come up with was ice cream cake?

Carvel Ice Cream Store, Edenwald, East 233rd Street & Paulding Avenue, Bronx, New York, December 27, 2010. jag9889 at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jag9889

The kicker was that I had to go get the cake. It was my birthday, but I had to leave 616, catch the 7 bus to Prospect, get off at Waldbaum’s and walk over to the empty Carvel store to buy a chocolate ice cream cake with a huge vanilla ice cream coating. I bought it and brought it home so we could celebrate me turning sixteen.

I wasn’t thankful for this assignment, and it showed. I had two bites before my older brother Darren and my younger siblings devoured the rock-hard dessert. I wished that Maurice would just go somewhere and die. Not a violent death or one that I had to be the cause of. Just a death that he deserved, like a massive coronary blockage due to a diet rich in saturated fats.

About a week ago, I told my seven-year-old son this story. Or at least, an exaggerated, funny and much less painful fictionalized version of it. I made my ex-stepfather into Jabba the Hutt, and my Carvel ice cream cake into a small square boulder that was painted white. At one point in the story, I told Noah that I hit my stepfather in the head with a piece of the cake, “knocking him out cold.” I made it so that my siblings ate the cake like Shaggy and Scooby ate Scooby Snacks after solving a case, with tongues circling their faces and licking off the excess to boot.

Noah just laughed and laughed throughout. I just hope that he finds something to laugh about when he finally hears the real story.


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