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Back to the 'Hood with my GPS

​ I took a trip down memory lane with my hubby this past weekend.  You see, I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  Except, the Brooklyn where I grew up has not experienced a renaissance where eco-conscious Generation Y's rave about their hip neighborhoods on the outskirts of Manhattan.  I grew up in Canarsie.  A section of the boro that popped up in the late sixties with non-descript brick houses that were all connected to one another.  My childhood memories of Canarsie started with a game of stoop ball with Carol Schnitzer who lived across the street from my house.  We'd play for hours until it got dark and then I'd sneak down to the basement and try to nudge my way into a poker game with my brother and his underage friends.  Ah, the fun was just non-stop back when I was seven.

Since my parents and all my friends moved away from Canarsie more than a decade ago, I admit that I secretly was excited to pass by my old house.  But that's when our Garmin hijacked my plans.

We started our night in Coney Island at a Russian club called Rasputin - my husband's work friends organized a get together with several couples and I have to say, it was one of the most enjoyable nights we've had in a long time.  There was dancing, a leggy blonde who had a voice like Celine Dion and one guy who looked like Owen Wilson with a Russian accent.  After we enjoyed a glitzy cabaret act which reminded me of a performance straight from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, we glanced at our watches and realized it was already passed midnight and it was time to hit the road.

When we got to the car I started getting giddy about taking my husband back through the streets of Brooklyn to my former home on Paerdegat 6th street but then he decided to plug in our GPS system.  At first, I was in complete agreement with the directions Bernice (that's our nickname for her) mapped out for us but after a certain point, when I would have turned right and driven towards my favorite pizza place (that would be Original Pizza on Ralph Avenue) Bernice kept on going straight ahead.   As we started passing familiar street names, I also began seeing the names of places that my parents used to intentionally avoid when I was kid.  You see, there are parts of Brooklyn that are downright dangerous - especially at 1 in the morning when your GPS system is leading you to the point of no return.  

Bernice kept on going, and going and going and the neighborhood got worse and worse and worse.  There were buildings with boarded up windows, Sutter Avenue - the block where my mom grew up that I vividly recall her telling me became a haven for crack addicts and at one point, when the GPS fell off the window and I started to instinctually duck under the dashboard, my husband lost it.   As I fumbled to put the Garmin back on the window and he told me to calm down, all I kept thinking was why didn't I listen to my instincts?  Why did I trust a gadget that obviously couldn't tell the difference when it was sending us into a war zone when I could have used the 20+ years experience I had acquired navigating my way through my old favorite haunts like Kings Plaza, Jahn's and Roller Palace?    

Instead, for a few fleeting minutes we were transported to a scene from Bonfire of the Vanities, and I missed my chance to visit my old house.  What I've now decided is that the GPS system will only be taken out when I'm traveling through places where I frequently get lost - like New Jersey for instance (is it just me, or did they purposely design signs in Jersey to confuse drivers).  And if I ever do get the chance to visit my old block again, I'll leave the Garmin where it belongs...back at home.

Posted in: Blog, Role Mommy Confessions on 05/12/2008

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