Broken or New?



Walking on buildings in the suburbs leads to flashing lights and long dashes for cover.

I can remember as a child being more fascinated by the janitor on the roof than the subject in class. The flag snapping and rolling in the wind, the “A” frame ladder over Mr. Foley’s shoulder, long steps in the direction of the gymnasium and his detailed image washed out by the bright light of the sun.

Before the roof it was the woods. My brothers would take me to the old fort, the pit and the tree.  We watched dirt bikes, captured snakes and found turtles.

How times have changed.

Change takes place right before your eyes and rarely when you are looking.  This time it was looking us square in the eyes.

I felt the change but didn’t know what to do about it. Every kid on the block felt it. Out of anger we broke the windows in the new homes that vandalized our natural world.

I can remember the kid who’s parents purchased the house behind the playground at school. The last bits of the woods within walking distance of me were  gone, sold. The sandpit I climb a thousand times  covered with manicured lawns and rich people I could not fully understand.

In the end, by junior high, all the woods were gone and we were being chased by the cops for riding our dirt bikes on the streets where trees once stood. Turns out it was a rich guys woods by the name of Hicks and I would have to spend my school years socializing with the rich.

The rooftops became our final sandpit to look out from, our last high spot to see or start trouble from. We had to travel a town over for a rooftop the cops couldn’t catch us on.  A closed down mental institute.

Within a few years the state imploded the old closed down mental institution.  We were forced to come down to ground. My friends and I looked out over a landscape covered by homes and the sparkling dreams of capitalism.

From the rooftops of public buildings thoughts of trouble rush forward in my mind and what I see is a flag snapping and rolling in the wind against a blue sky, the bright lights of strangers homes and a sandpit filled with dreams, broken and new.


2 thoughts on “Broken or New?

  1. Very visual and striking. Takes me back to some of my own such experiences. Brings to mind an old Joni Mitchel tune, “Paved Paradise and put up a parking lot…” I watched so much of that happening and I too, lost the “sacred ground” of a child.

    1. I live on Long Island, birthplace of Levittown, surrounded by suburban sprawl. It’s a shame how fast the woods just disappear and the new home owners are clueless. Someones dream is another persons nightmare. Thanks for the kind words Virginia.

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