In the spring of 2002, I had just finished my sophomore year of college and was entering what I realized was probably one of the last true summers of my life – three straight months off, and about six weeks before work started in July.
My best friend George had a job at Strand books, some hidden upstairs floor, working the shrink-wrap machine. He had just concluded his sophomore year as an English major at NYU and similarly faced a slew of weeks off.
That spring, Ground Zero was still being scooped out, four or five homes just seven blocks from my parents’ house stood as empty lots after a commercial airliner crash, and my grandpa was dying of cancer. He had been for three years.
He owned a hardware store in Little Italy, a dusty, old place that smelled sweet, where the floors creaked. I lingered around there a lot in high school (a mile away) and had been with him on Elizabeth Street rooftops, my knees tingling as he stood three feet from the edge – five stories up – replacing a cover on a vent pipe. I’d made sales at the register, laughed when he grew cranky with customers and, for a few weeks each summer when he’d close the store to get out of town, I watched him fall asleep in the breeze at the lake, his favorite place of all. I also sat in silence at Shore Front Nursing Home, as he held a spoon to my lethargic grandma’s mouth, feeding her soup he made himself.
To read the rest of this post, click through to my new Bob Dylan blog, Don’t Think Twice.