A theme of my adult consciousness seems to be letting go of memories: the bad ones and the good ones. The bad ones for obvious reasons, but the good ones (some of them) because they’re just hallucinations of clouded and glamorized retrospect, dare I say inauthentic… LIES! And it’s important to distinguish fantasy from reality because there’s only so much room on the hard drive of my brain as the clock ticks and ticks in 24 hour cycles. At this point the usefulness of all this supposed real-life wisdom comes into question. All you figments of revisionist history who don’t contribute to the bottom line of my peaceful easy feeling GET THE FUCK OUT! Byee.
Yesterday a friend and I rented a car and drove out to Long Island to visit a house I lived in between the ages of 5-12. Long before one hits the “Hamptons”the L.I.E. cuts a pathway through suburban sprawl mixed with more lush and vast property values and culturally-varying accents. The accents that make worldwide awareness usually belong to residents of the South Shore from Long Beach to the Fire Island ferry at Sayville. The L.I. Lolita types. The souped-up E-Class Mercedes crowd. Where big hair and acid-wash still thrive like it’s 1985. Malls everywhere! Then there’s the North Shore where I lived. It’s different from the South Shore in plenty of ways; most subjective depending on one’s idiosyncratic ideas of what makes a place THE place. Let’s say, hypothetically, that if Amityville (South Shore) stopped time on a hot July day in 1986 around 3:16 p.m., then Huntington (North Shore) by the same token stopped the same clock between early 1958 and late 1976. Somewhere. No one is sure exactly when. Can we dig some pop culture visualizations here? Station wagons? “Real” Housewives? Colonials and garden parties and key bowls? The North Shore is very much a Rockwell painting whereas the South Shore is a Night Ranger album cover. Millennials, type “Sister Christian” into YouTube and see what pops up in terms of hairstyles and American Values. Looks like the R.N.C. of 2016? By golly it surely fucking does! Anyway, the North Shore is nicer than the South Shore in the opinion of good taste. If another opinion differs I don’t care.
So… This particular house we went to see is in Huntington on the North Shore overlooking Long Island Sound and Connecticut. It’s where I lived during my formative years while not in Manhattan during the week going to the United Nations School with a lot of Saudi kids in the 1970’s. I know from some inter-web searches that this house has been in and out of foreclosure for a number of years. A friend of my mom’s who still lives across the street tells tales of how badly neglected this house has been during this time. What was once a really amazing showplace is now, as I saw yesterday, a fucking haunted house, in both the literal and figurative sense. But the past is the past. My memories, however genuine, are mine to do with what I want. But seeing this house for the second time in about 30 years really bummed me out. About six years ago I went to see it and it looked the same as it did yesterday. Abandoned. I felt as if all the good things I remember happening there are now tainted by a few boards on the windows. Doesn’t make sense to the intellectual side of my brain but few things do. Can’t steer the wheel of reactionary emotions. That’s a rocky road to navigate. As I pulled away I had a longing sense of loss and sadness that I rarely ever feel because, basically, I’m dead inside. The ZERO FUCKS guy and his discomfort with sentiment. So, one could ask, why would I go look at this house knowing what I would find? Calling Doctor Freud and not leaving a message.
The last time I was inside this house was a dark early summer morning in 1980 when I was 11. I remember pulling away from the house with my soon-to-be-divorced parents thinking I was leaving the only real home I ever knew. Plenty of parties and Christmas celebrations and long days by the pool. My tree house in the back yard where my little gay friend Raymond and I would plot to take over the neighborhood. Watching the Love Boat and Fantasy Island on Saturday nights in the basement TV room. The full wet bar where I had my first drink of Creme de Menthe around age 7 complete with Playboy model cocktail stirrers that had disappearing bikinis when wet. The feeling I had that morning thirty six years ago I felt again yesterday. Turning away from memories. Making new ones, sure. But what if the new ones don’t compare to the old ones? Then what? Does it make the old ones any less special? I suppose what made me sad yesterday was thinking about how life as I knew it ended when we pulled the car away from the house that morning in 1980. It would be an understatement to say things went way downhill from there. So, why did I go and look at this house again? I wanted to remember something good. I guess that’s why. Simple. To remember a time in my life that was happy. Untouched by the unnecessary evils of adulthood. We didn’t hang out long because, even though the house looks abandoned, the boogeyman still may lurk within waiting to get a pretty white boy like me. Seems we’re just as in demand as ever. Timeless, like the North Shore.
As we rode back to the city I compartmentalized my feelings and snapped back into 2016 and its bills and loans and sex and traffic. 1980 was a long time ago. Too old to delete from the hard drive without regret. I’ll keep it. I’ll delete 1999 instead. Well, I would if I remembered it, but I don’t. So I’ll just keep expanding the memory. This was a downer, I know. Soon I’ll have tales of overindulgence to relay. The book deal’s not gonna suck itself.
this used to be my playground