Each journey begins with one step.
And when I began, I had no idea where I was going. Worse, if I started, would I be able to finish?
What I have learned along the way is that this process … this gift if you will … is a journey of discovery.
I dig to the bottom of a trunk, pull from the back of a drawer, the old, yellow pages of journals written decades ago. The birth of some of my most memorable characters are fashioned from those who raised me, those I remember from my early years in Sunset Park. The older memories shine brighter, carry more meaning for me … especially now that I have more hindsight.
My alter-ego is actually my middle name … Antoinette … the name of my paternal grandmother and the name my father had wanted for his first, and most likely, only girl child.
It was fate that my maternal grandmother … Florence … passed away while my mother was expecting me, thus switching the order of my two names.
Antoinette is the main character in my Third Eye Mystery Trilogy and the central character in a series of short stories … the stories of a young, Italian girl growing up in Sunset Park.
Here is one snippet from the stories I have written about the characters from Sunset Park.
The first kiss …
Bobby Salzano was the prettiest boy Antoinette had ever seen and when his mom came to see her mom, he and Antoinette would go to the backyard to play. For as long as she could remember whenever they were together she felt odd or silly.
Bobby had beautiful wavy black hair and light blue eyes with dark blue speckles. He was two years older and the only boy Antoinette liked who was taller than she. Every girl in the public school was crazy about Bobby, especially Teresa. Antoinette knew he was crazy for her. She didn’t exactly know how she knew, but she knew.
They were playing handball against the wall of the diner and when they got tired, found two old milk crates and sat and watched Slow Rosie’s dad, Carmine Tafazzoli on the roof of the house next to hers tending his pigeons. Bobby was busy explaining about pigeons when Antoinette felt him put his finger on her arm. She flinched, but he left it there. She felt him move his finger all the way down her arm, giving her a chilly willy.
He said, “I like you, Toni. I want to kiss you. Okay?”
Antoinette’s head bobbed up and down, but nothing came out of her mouth.
He kissed her, just like that. He turned her crate so they were facing each other, put his hands on her shoulders, and kissed her. And before she knew what was happening, she put her hands on his shoulders and kissed him back. Her boobs in training started to tingle; in fact she tingled all over and didn’t want to let him go. She was two weeks shy of ten and Bobby was twelve.
Carmine yelled at them. “Hey! You two cut that stuff out. You ain’t old enough.” They looked up, laughed and ran back to the front of the house.
Each time I journey back to those early years, I ponder … does this mean I was meant for this life … the life of a writer? The life of someone who collects memories and fashions them into tales for your enjoyment?
I think yes. This is the life I was meant to live … and for however long it has taken me to come to this crossroads in my journey … I would not trade one moment of time to get here sooner. It is my way to honor those who have gone before me, those who I still cherish and those I have yet to meet.
How about you, how far have you traveled from those early years?
What memories find their place in your stories?