Saturday, June 1, 2013

memory

Memory is a slippery thing. I based the roof-top scene in the story I posted yesterday on childhood recollections. I was born in New York and lived until almost seven in a dilapidated 'brown stone' (ie brick) apartment building in a run-down part of Manhattan. There were wide alleys behind, narrow ones between, and the alleys, streets, and roof-tops were our playground. It seems insane now to think that at age 4, 5, & 6 I was running around unsupervised in such places, sometimes even alone, but those were different days, and nothing untoward happened or was even hinted at.

Some of the brownstones were adjoining - what we'd call a terrace here in Ireland. Every few had a narrow ally in between. When I was writing the story and telling it to the children at the local school I was absolutely convinced that I had run around those roofs as a child ... hopping from one to another when the buildings were linked ... and sometimes braving the wobbly planks that bigger boys placed between those divided by narrow alleys. 

But thinking about it after, I wondered if it could possibly be true. Those buildings were five or six floors over basement - the drop from the roof would have been 40 or 50 feet. Surely I as a small child wouldn't have dared to cross over such a chasm? One of the teachers thought that I might have ... you wouldn't believe what small children will dare, she said; often they're more fearless than older kids, being less aware of the dangers.

I still find it difficult to believe, reflecting upon it, that I would have done such a thing as a child. And yet, it is what I remember. And there is no way of checking if that memory is right or wrong. So I guess, for all intents and purposes, having only memory to go on, I must have. But still, I wonder ...

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