Now I've eased into older childhood...a span of years where identity is quite lost on most tweeners. For me it wasn't so much lost as it was hiding, waiting for something wonderful to happen and while I was waiting I was trying to figure out how to remove the rats' nest of tangles that gave my dark hair a poofy look.
Okay, I had these two brothers, Jimmy and Mark. For ten long years I'd had these same two brothers. We fought our way through many meals together agreeing that one of us should knock a glass of milk onto my dad's plate before he was finished eating each night. We ruined many quiet evenings in front of the television as a threesome. We tattled daily on the slightest insult done to one of us by the other of us in a most distressed manner causing my mother's face to distort into something not quite human as she ran after us yelling something like "If you don't quit that crying I'll give you something to cry about". My brothers and I played well together as a team for all of the first two minutes of every day before one of us had had ENOUGH (which again caused our mother to act weird) and we of course fought bedtime like three brave warriors with a mission to end each evening in a collective wail and causing unwarranted threats from the two weary people that we called for when we were sick.
A girl has to start somewhere and my memory of this is not quite as sharp as some of my earlier stories...that might be due to STAGE FRIGHT! The place was and is still called Donks Theatre in Mathews, Virginia. The charm of an old building with the original front looked more like a football stadium to my 12 year old eyes as my mom and dad pulled up to my first "big" show. I was going to get to sing one whole song with the house band that performed every Saturday night.
Sometimes wandering back through my mind makes me feel like I'm taking a vacation to some tropical island with sparkling blue water and snowy white sands; a real getaway. One of those beaches holds the memories of my summers spent with my Bonna and Pop in Richmond, Virginia.
The great family "get together" was a staple in my childhood. My father's family actually surrounded us...literally! My Italian grandfather Carmine Ulisse, Papa, encouraged my uncles, Gene and Tony, my father and my aunt Yolanda to build houses circling my Nana and Papa's home. These siblings were all close in age so they started sprouting kids at the same time; lots of them. It was so cool growing up next door to all of my Italian cousins. There was never a loss for playmate, they were everywhere. I also got to grow up in close proximity to the best Italian cook in the world, just a hop and skip across the field and through her aromatic front door!!! My Nana could jam on some spaghetti and meatballs and all things Italian. I was lucky enough to get a plate of pasta almost everyday! Her bread...yummmm! Her sauce, whew...my mouth is watering now.
My father, Jimmy Ulisse could come across the best deals on the oddest things. He and mom thought I would be better served if I learned piano. After this decision, he went on a hunt and found me the coolest, upright piano that a nine year old could ever hope for. It was a lovely shade of cotton candy pink and the ivories were a nice yellowish color. Dad presented it on my birthday and stood beside it with this big Italian grin. My mother must have been very challenged in how to work this lovely PINK upright piano into our den.