Hashtag Throwback Thursday takes famous photographs and uses them as a basis for an ongoing exploration and somewhat fictionalized account of my life growing up on the east side during the deindustrialization of Buffalo, New York.
Hashtag Throwback Thursday. Here is a photograph of me in the golden moments of my youth on the east side of Buffalo, New York. I am rolling a tire I found in a vacant lot because my brothers had set fire to my Big Wheel on the railroad tracks by my grandmother's house off of Olympic Avenue. The burning of my Big Wheel had occurred several weeks prior to this photograph being taken. The matches which set fire to the gasoline that had been poured on my Big Wheel had been stolen by my brother from my Aunt Laura who smoked non-filtered Lucky Strikes. My brother will remain nameless, because I swore to him at the time of the theft that I would never tell, otherwise I would receive a fat lip administered by a knuckle sandwich. I did not know what the matches were to be used for at the time I had agreed to the pact. I am eight, still wearing the milk fat of my baby years, and wearing my favorite socks. I am shirtless because I loathed the feel of the hand-me down polyesther shirts of my brothers. I am trying to impress my first girlfriend who lived on Roebling Avenue and wore Jordache jeans. Her eyes shined like smooth wet stones and I longed to hold her hand, but her hand was held by another, and so I rolled my tire like an innocent Sisyphus. Up and down and back again. Over and over. This is what I like to remember. Not that my Big Wheel was melted on the railroad tracks by my brothers who enjoyed burning things and kissing girls behind the garage. Not the smooth wet stones that were the eyes of the girl who lived down the block and would eventually become my first girlfriend. Not the Lucky Strikes of my aunt who is a photograph now. Not my grandmother, that hero of a woman who made the love that was my mother, both of whom who are no longer. No. I like to remember the overwhelming joy and beauty of those moments. The truth and simplicity. A tire lay in a vacant lot and I rolled it. I was glad to be in the world with the air rushing over my slick summer body, full on my mother's potato pancakes. Intimate with everything I wanted. Laughing with my friend. The dream quietly waiting for the taking. The smooth wet stones still somehow shone on me. The way it was and the way it could be all wrapped up together neatly in a circle that I rolled and let go and watched as it went on and on - down the street, and then further and still somehow continues on.