Have You Seen My Childhood???
205 Monticello Avenue was our address. If you live in Jersey City, NJ you are familiar with the building between Jewett and Fairview. There’s a huge graffiti painting on the side of the building that my cousin Idris did while we were attending Summer Camp. That’s actually where the first Summer Fun camp was held by Viola Richardson. I was one of the first kids to attend the camp there.
My mom and I, along with my sister and my father lived on the second floor of the building in apartment seven. The apartment was a very small two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom set up. The place was very cozy with carpet throughout the entire house. My sister and I had some really good times in that apartment and some horrible times. Among the best times, my sister and I came up with games to keep ourselves busy. We played “Office” Where we would set our beds up as desks and take paper and act important. We would role play as if my sister was trying to take out a loan and I would ask her for a “Low down payment.” We were kids none of the stuff we said back then makes any sense to me now, but we had fun.
Denisha and I loved playing with her dolls. Her Barbie dolls dated my action figures. We would set up her doll house set. We would make new clothes for the dolls by cutting up old socks and our clothes. My mother thought it was weird that we played with dolls and role-played real-life situations. One day, Barbie caught G.I. Joe cheating on her with Kelly. Barbie was furious and went to go set G.I Joes truck on fire. Kelly got Pregnant with G.I Joe’s child. Barbie tried to push Kelly down the stairs during her pregnancy. A lot of the storylines we came up with came from All My Children and Richard Bay shows.
Denisha is going to kill me for writing this one. Denisha had this one black doll whose hair was never done and had dirty clothes on. I created a character for the doll and made her speak; I thought that it would be hilarious if the doll was in an on-again off-again relationship with a roach called Andre. The building we lived in was infested with roaches and the running joke was because she was never really seeing the same roach because there was a lot of them and they kept running from her; the relationship was on-again and off-again.
With good times, there were a lot of bad times. Denisha and I grew up secluded because my father was a huge drug addict. There weren’t that many people around us who actually could relate to what my sister and I were going through. Everyone knew that my dad was an addict but Denisha and I were so embarrassed that people knew. Our family and our neighbors knew about my dad’s drug issues and because of it, we were teased mercilessly. I hated being around my father when he was high. Consider being seven or eight years old openly knowing about your fathers drug habit. My father would spend about an hour in the bathroom snorting dope. I think that my mother tried her best to hide my dad’s problems from us, but it started to spin out of control to the point that she could no longer hide it.
One weekend, my mother decided to go to Atlantic City with her friend Cheryl. I remember that it was a Saturday because later in the day, Denisha and I were up watching Saturday Night Live. My mother had left around 5pm, leaving my sister and I in the house with my father. Denisha and I cried because we didn’t want our mother to leave and we did not want to be left with our father. Soon after my mother left for Atlantic City, our father left. Denisha was six years old and I was about to be nine years old. Hours went by and my father hadn’t returned.
“I’m hungry.” Denisha started to cry. At this time, I had learned how to cook, but I was allowed to work the stove without adult supervision. But when 10 pm came and there was no sign of my father. I had to take care of my little sister. So I went in the refrigerator to find something that I could cook. There were eggs, but no butter or bread. We had cereal, but no milk. There were left overs but we couldn’t use the stove. Denisha continued to cry that she was hungry and I did what I could to keep her quiet and happy. I was so mad that my mom was out with her friend Cheryl, and after this episode with my father I actually started to hate Cheryl.
Saturday Night Live came on and Denisha and I watched it. Then, Its Showtime at The Apollo came on. Still there was no sign of my father. 1 am I decided to heat something up for Denisha and gave her some Kool-Aid. Soon after Apollo went off, Denisha fell asleep. I fell asleep not too long after. I awoke with the sound of my mother coming in the door. She came in the room and asked.
“Where’s your father?” I always thought that it was funny that she asked us that question, as if we knew. I just shrugged my shoulders and said.
“He left a few minutes after you did. He hasn’t come back yet.” My mother looked mad. She looked over at Denisha who was still asleep. She then went into her room and then next door in our apartment building to Cheryl’s apartment to use her phone. My mother started to call around for my father, until she gave up.