It was summer in Brooklyn, the Labor Day parade had just wrapped and us kids had made our way to my grandmother’s stoop to watch on, as all the party goers fell out of the amazing, beautiful, and pure madness that was living in Brooklyn at that time. Everyone wore a flag of some sort, little to no clothes, and was usually dripping in sweat from the constant shaking of their hips. The rain had started to pour, and costumes began soaking heavy because of it. Everyone made their way off of Eastern Parkway with a bit of music leading them out and happy drunkenness guiding them home. Us kids looked on, finding comedic relief in what was left of that day. I remember feeling like home then. Music blared from the speakers of the floats that went by. Candy colored costumes adorned all of those who took part. Pride, not only if you happened to be West Indian, but simply a Brooklynite, filled the streets. I was surrounded by my brothers, sister, aunts, cousins, and friends- who felt like family.
Classon ave felt like home.
It was home.
Today I raise my children here with my husband; Clinton Hill to be specific. My memories of what was, and what lived, still feels close in many ways. If I want to, I can not only mentally place those memories, but I feel as though I can damn near touch them, if I’ve gathered up enough energy.
“There, that’s where mommy and Ti Ti would play double dutch”
“Behind that building is a hill my grandmother used to let us roll up and down on while she picnicked up top!”
I am constantly reminded of the revolving characters who touched my young life, and ultimately, who changed my world. I want that for my children. I am well aware that that sense of community you can obtain anywhere, if you seek it. But for me, I am evidence of how my Brooklyn community shaped me. I’m also very well aware that their Brooklyn will be different then my Brooklyn. As mixed children and as children of a different time.
What brings comfort above all, are the faces of these characters we call our neighbors and friends. Most of which are of African American or mixed descent. My kids can identify with their peers. There’s no insecurity in who they are, where they come from, and what makes up our family unit. And at the same time, they can also learn from the contrasting relationships of what makes up a family from these characters as well. They all play different roles in the lives of my children, and for that I am ever thankful.
One day, when they’re older, I hope they find that same comfort in the memories I shared with them… in the Brooklyn they inherited, and in the Brooklyn they created on their own.