Every summer for as long as I can remember, there comes a soft tugging at my heart in August. It started last week and continues to get stronger as the days pass. Its a warning of sorts that the season is ending one more time. Another circle was completed from this time last year. I am one of the people who like to talk about it. When I bring it up, others agree that they feel it too. However, no one else I know ever brings it to anyone’s attention. It’s like April first being less of a fool’s day and more of a reminder that taxes are due soon.
This year has been so much different and unique. More so than any I can think of except this end of summer blues. At 59, I am on the other side of the equilibrium that living and dying provides. Every year that passes makes this both true and more true too.
A ball of confusion. The Temptations had it so right back in 1970. I read the lyrics a couple of days ago and attached a link to them here, hoping someone would agree. So right. Everything being as it is, unacceptable and unexplainable.
I remain the same: Bummed that fall is coming and summer is ending as I search for that beautiful slice of life between my love for humanity and challenging those who comprise it.
Here are the lyrics to The Temptations song “Ball of Confusion” written in 1970. Check them out.
Some of my favorite rides with my family growing up were in a big, green Buick Electra. The model covered six decades and was the pride of the corner of Blackpoint and Ave of Two in the early ’70s. The car took its rightful place in the newly adorned front driveway. I was in school at Forestdale, had my first kiss under my belt from a nice girl down the road, and consumed myself with basketball and rock n’ roll.
Like all of our cars, the Electra knew the route. If it was a Sunday afternoon, we headed to my maternal grandparents’ house. This meant a drive west on Rumson Road then south on Seven Bridges Road (which doesn’t and never had seven bridges on it). My sister and I would be sprawled out on the back seat, close enough for protection but far enough away from each other to remind ourselves we were brother and sister.
In a few years, I would break the front windshield of that car one day when I talked my mom into giving me and my surfboard a ride to the beach. I pushed a little too hard loading it, and the nose feathered a crack in the glass. I remember standing in the front yard driveway. Fear overcame me as I knew how this would go, and end. My mom must have felt particularly brave this day as I started to walk back towards the house, giving up on my surf session. She asked where I was going and I pointed to my room. She waved me back, explaining the damage was already done, and the waves were big, so let’s go surfing.
I am still not sure how she pulled that off and will never know. And that is the magic of many moms who manage to make lemonade from lemons and great waves from disaster.
A car ride always had a mystical, transference like effect on me. We took the car from the driveway on Avenue of Two Rivers. At the time, there was no driveway on Blackpoint Road. That would be a later upgrade to the 6181 square foot corner lot with a small house and garage. After my dad became more successful, we added a second and parked it off to the side in the front yard. Show-offs.
Yard parked. Our property had no front driveway in the ’60s. Over time, stones and railroad ties outlined the channel for the car. The creosote on the ties smelled for a long time after they found their way into the ground. Today, it is the first place to park, provided you have a nice car. Oh, so Rumson.
The east end of Blackpoint Road was the most beautiful part of the street and still is. In that way, it is similar to the south end of Avenue of Two Rivers. Lovely homes on lots with oodles of acres of space to call your own only. We were on a kind of cross-section multiplex of 5 roads that cornered closer to the middle of both. We rested on the southwest edge, just far enough from the higher end places to make you envious, farther away from the low rent district so you felt like you made it out of somewhere, but close enough to nothing to call it home. This was good enough for my sister Karen, and I. The home at 93 Blackpoint Road was heaven on earth to our parents.
Once in a while, my dad would declare, “Let’s go for a ride.” So we did. The Ford Falcon station wagon was a transitional vehicle from my dad’s truck to a family car. He still had the truck, but with this car, he could work out of it and fit all four of us on our way to nowhere. Life was just starting, and so was good. Karen would sit with me in the back seat, mapping her plan to be the best at everything and not piss everyone off. She would succeed with her plan. I had my Etch-A-Sketch wondering what made it work. Time passed slowly, wobegone as it was.
For regular readers and followers, I think I will string together some number of days, see you tomorrow.
Growing up in Rumson put you 26 miles as the crow goes to Wall Street. The town has a plethora of people and families who have made riches there. Some from nothing, others by carrying daddy’s bags a little further.
Chances are everyone who commuted to the city tried their own way to cut time off the daily trek. Being young and ambitious, I thought I could too. Turned out, I was just young and dumb. If you drove into Jersey City, chances are you parked at a lot that was handled by a middle aged-plus black man who took your money and aimed you to an open spot. He would repeat “beautiful day” regardless of the weather or circumstances. We laughed at him now and again when it was raining or snowing but…
I went back to Sloan Kettering this week for testing. I actually like going there as the people are so pleasant. The results are what they are. In time you become almost immune to them. I often wonder if I am the only one who feels this way. Reminds me of our old dog, Dash. We tried to extend his life with treatment. He felt so bad he wagged his tail when the vet came to put him down. He knew she always gave him stuff that made him feel better.
Sloan in Middletown has an attendant who attends to the daily parking lot. He greets everyone and reminds us to have a nice day when we leave. The first and last guy you see when you go there. He reeks of “beautiful day” and causes great reward for nearly nothing to create a smile. I have been going there for a couple of years and actually like it. Seeing a familiar face in the parking lot is a big deal for this cancer patient. I am in a good place with my cancer, and I felt the same when I was not. The same guy worked the lot then as does now.
Oh, how nice it is to experience pleasant people. Try to be one if you get the chance today.
My family endured the poison pellets of three deaths in five months last year. It was painful and tiring but, that’s life. We experienced a lot. An unintended consequence was sorting through the mountain of stuff that made its way into our hands. I had told my parents we didn’t want things as we have a beautiful home filled with items we collected ourselves. Every day, I went to their house for seven months, filled 14 dumpsters, and sold or gave away most of their belongings. It made many others happy, which was the goal and represented their legacy well.
Along the way, I bumped into an old friend and neighbor I grew up with, Dawn Tilton Massabni. She had lost her daughter, Maddy, to toxic shock syndrome at 19 years young in 2017. We reminisced, she cried. I promised to help in some way. Around the same time, I got Prostate Cancer that required a major operation. I met so many good people along the way. Some at Sloan, some local physicians, others were sufferers of the disease. I read a lot about cancer from materials provided by the Prostate Cancer Foundation; I promised to help.
I started selling items on eBay in June of 19 through my store Junk in the Trunk. I have sold over 350 items and figured out how to pack and ship each one. I promised to do a good job. I became a Top Rated Seller. I also decided to support the two charities, Don’t Shock Me, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, with a portion of the proceeds. The effort would help worthy causes and allow me to fulfill my promises and continue to build on my parents’ legacy. A year later, I still have over 150 items from my parents’ hoard. Understanding stuff that others might use or enjoy is tricky for us boomers and Gen Xers. Dealing with estate evaluation services is complex and is an industry without standards or oversight. I met with all types of snake salespeople and decided to handle the liquidation of my parents’ items myself. The charity angle is excellent and worthy and provides a cushion on dealing with the sale of a once cherished item.
Recently, I decided to move the business off of eBay and onto www.junkinthetrunklc.com. I also decided to do this work for others who have found themselves in a situation similar to ours. So Junk in the Trunk is reborn as my site, which reduces costs so more good can come from sales. We are an online consignment store with philanthropic roots, featuring quality products and just plain cool stuff. This effort fills my day during retirement. It gives me a reason to get up at it and pays for my lunch. More importantly, it helps grieving families decide how to repurpose items from lost souls and redirect money to those who need it.
If you want to know more or consign with us, call me at 732-788-0475 or email me at email@example.com. In the meantime, stop by and have a look at what we have.