Back in 1979 the government tapped my old man to take over a disastrous project in the New York area, and sent our family to live in the tri-state area. It was just supposed to be a two year diversion from our life in suburban DC, just like the S.S. Minnow was only supposed to be on a three hour tour. the early 80's were a crazy time in real estate and, since that was one of my old man's specialties they had a few choice places to pick from. One of them was a Brownstone in Hoboken NJ. At that time the town was a bit of a shithole, so the place was a relative steal. The same went for a building that they were looking at in lower Manhattan. Ultimately they chose to buy in the small Central Jersey town of Metuchen, which provided train access to NYC.
With that choice they set in motion 20 plus years of the lives of 6 people (so much for that two year appointment). Our lives, in turn, impacted the lives of others and it was that give and take which made us who we are now. Who knows what I would be like if I had grown up in SoHo or the East Village. Would I be better or worse? Chances are pretty good that I'd be, at base, the same person. You know, that whole nature vs nurture argument. That said, some of the choices I myself would end up making would almost certainly have changed, and I would most definitely be in a different place, with different friends and a whole other life.
In thinking about all this as I walked the streets of the Village yesterday, I reflected on some of those choices that I ended up making and how they laid out the path that I am on now. Where I went to college, the clubs and organizations I joined and the people I chose to spend time with. They all were just ripples at the time but, they now have the force of tidal waves. Surprisingly, they were all made with slim to no thought to their consequences. My folks thought about a lot of things when they chose Metuchen over Hoboken and the Village, but did they really know what the positives and negatives would be some 28 years later?
Of course not, we never do. That's not to say that they were reckless in their choices, because they always made their choices with us in mind. Ultimately though, they didn't dwell too much on all the many end results these decisions would have, they just their choice and focused on giving us the best life they could. Living every day, one day at a time and all that jazz. I hear all these stories of people who agonize over every aspect of their lives or their children's lives, but the truth is... you just have to play the cards you are dealt. You have to make the best choice in the moment and not try to think of all the possible outcomes, because you'll drive yourself crazy. This is what I was thinking walking along Avenue A the other day. This, and, why the fuck is it so hot?