Friday, February 5, 2010

Take Me Back to Coney Island

I want a kiwi, and a bag of cherries
just the way my grandma would bring them to me
after a day of ambling around Chinatown buying little round buddhas 
and various statues of elephants,
some emblazoned with the American flag, some jade, some big, some small
to add to her collection that sits among old school pictures of me and my cousins
in mismatched frames, our awkward smiles accentuated by the cloudy looking colors behind us
I remember the picture day form where you could pick from red, blue, green and purple
none of which were very flattering
I would practice my smile in the mirror, 
and screw it up as soon as I got in front of the camera
the picture lady would mess with my hair
with one of those little plastic combs she would use on everything else
not only did the lights make me feel weird
but I also had to deal with the anxiety that that comb had lice on it
knees together swiveled to the right, head tilted painfully to the left
snap, and that was it
a document of an entire year crammed into 3 seconds
and over the years the problems would keep coming, missing teeth, crooked bangs,
and a god awful school uniform, turned into 
too much glitter eyeshadow, and hot pink lipstick, 
you always find the best, sweetest, and most potentially embarrassing memories
at your grandmother's house
I'm realizing how much I miss her right now
because we are so far away from the days when Coney Island 
was better than Disneyland
the waves crashed onto the dirty beach, littered with beer bottles, 
shards of sea shells, and glass
dirty, gritty, but more beautiful to me than any vacationer's beach
because in the distance I could see the Wonder Wheel
its red and blue carts swinging as it turned
slowly, the same it had been doing since 1920
the boardwalk, with its squirt gun and basketball games
riddled with neon stuffed animals, 
elephants, the pink panther,
and the lingering smell of sand, saltwater, and french fries and the loud sounds
of bachata, merengue, and salsa escaping from various radios
it never got old, me and my grandmother would walk along the boardwalk
and she'd occasionally stop to dance to the salsa blaring out of 
an old man's boom box 
we would buy cotton candy, 
its thin pink wisps melting on my tongue as we waited on line for the 
Tilt-A-Whirl, Thunderbolt & Spook-a-rama
sending us into fits of dizziness and giggles
amidst the 90s pop songs & Michael Jackson that blared out of the DJs speakers
the rides were always too short, as were the days I spent with her there
I'd finish with a bubble gum icy, tiny chiclets scattered throughout 
creating rainbow swirls in the icy pink
buying a candy apple, its red smooth coating glistening 
in the sunlight that streamed into the train windows
we'd finish our day, 
just to ride the F train all the way back home
passing Neptune Ave, & Avenue X
to arrive at Essex St., where we'd emerge into the familiarity
of the Lower East Side, nearly a whole world away from that fantasy land. 

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