The other night on the way to the cadre DC event in Silver Spring, I took a route I seldom take. And as I passed 16th St, I thought I recognized my very first apartment bldg my family lived in when we came to this country.
I considered stopping but wouldn’t be on time.
I pretty much forgot all about it as I left to go home. The scene outside was a bit foggy and rainy with plenty of bad traffic to contend with – not really optimal driving conditions. I missed a turn and went a different route home keeping an eye out for food to bring home to the family. I thought I was close to Parkway deli so scooted across 3 lanes….only to realize it wasn’t the right street.
Not even close.
Probably should have mapped it instead of relying on memory.
Oh well, I’ll just head back to the beltway and get something closer to home.
Several wrong turns later I was back on Georgia Ave but headed the opposite way back into downtown Silver Spring again.
At this point I was starting to get annoyed but then just as quickly I thought maybe something else interesting will pop up. I was still thinking food-wise.
Taking 16th St from a different direction, I realized I was looking at the wrong apartment building previously.
I parked the car and all these feelings started welling up. I had never been back to this place for 37+ years. It wasn’t nostalgia but something else.
The bus stop out front did it for me.
To set up this story you need to understand Russian immigrants might do things a little differently. 😉
My parents headed off to work really early and I was supposed to get myself ready. There was a family friend/babysitter who lived in the same building and I’d wake up and go to her apartment before school.
Except one morning I didn’t show up.
That morning I got on my superman slippers and took my big leather European wallet/satchel with all my Hanukah money in it.
My 6 year-old self was determined to get on that bus and head to People’s Drug (anyone remember People’s before CVS?) and get markers and paper to draw with.
Plan seemed smart to me.
I got on the bus with no problem. Went to People’s and got my markers. All good.
But on the way back I had no idea things took a turn for the worse. I asked a woman for the bus to 16th st and she pointed me to some direction. As I sat on the bus looking out the window things definitely didn’t seem right. I had no clue there was a DC and MD side to 16th st.
When we came to the final stop the driver looked at me and said, “End of the line kid.”
Thankfully he didn’t let me get off when he saw the look on my face. He called the police and they took me to the station. I knew where my father worked and they managed to contact him to come pick me up. I had entertained the officers with some of my drawings.
This has always been a funny story in our family. How much I loved to draw, getting on the wrong bus, my determination, etc. but it could have turned out pretty different.
Tonight, when I sat in the parking lot all these intense feelings of unease and sadness came up as soon as I pulled in.
It felt like I was tapping into the fear my parents and family friends felt when they couldn’t find me. Talking about that incident as an adult to them a few years back they shared how terrified they were to check the metro tracks that ran behind the building for what they might find.
With my own kids now it’s painful to imagine what everyone went through for the time I was missing.
My attention shifted from forgiveness for what I put my parents through to myself. To be able to go “back” in time and provide love, protection and help for my scared 6-year old self.
As I sat there it seemed almost like I tapped into some sort of “frozen holographic slice” of time energy that had been “stuck” there. But now I had the tools to consciously navigate out.
From there with tears welling up in my eyes, I realized I was actually really close to Parkway Deli but only because of my detour and “wrong” turns.