schwartz

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by Iris N. Schwartz

I was twenty-seven, beyond ready to move out of my mother’s house in Brooklyn.

My father moved out when I was twelve. Actually, he died when I was twelve, and “moved out” to his new home, six feet under, in Queens.

Grandma passed when I was thirteen, and moved to…I forget which borough, or cemetery.

My sister left when I was twenty─I think. I have trouble remembering because I was bitterly jealous of her and wanted to move out, too.

Family dying or otherwise departing was hard on my mother. When my father died, of a sudden, gargantuan heart attack, my mother was under fifty and still very attractive. Since his death, however, ice-cream-eating escapades left her markedly rotund.

I had a job, in market research, when my sister said she’d signed a lease on a rent-controlled apartment─but now thought it too small. It was a studio, on Waverly Place. Would I consider it? How could I not?

My leave-taking was difficult on my mother. When the truck arrived, she asked the two sweaty, muscular moving men if she could ride to Manhattan with them (and me). They said “Hell, no!” I’ll never forget my mother’s wide, short body behind the screen door, watching men move her youngest daughter away.

When I visited, she gave me frozen chicken wings, iceberg lettuce, and toilet tissue to schlep home. When I called, she’d tell me who moved. Neighborhood apartments were available.

I threw out a lot so I could fit into that studio. (Still miss my stack of Playbills!) I took Grandma’s Art Deco dresser. I had cool neighbors who never spoke to me. Heaven!

I got out of Canarsie by the skin of my twenty-seven-year-old teeth. Doesn’t mean I didn’t feel guilty. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t thrilled.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This was taken in Dover, England, by Jeffrey Rothstein, perhaps a couple of years before I moved from Canarsie, Brooklyn, to Greenwich Village, Manhattan.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I find I’m most in touch with all my senses, and unencumbered with niggling thoughts, if I shut the door to the room containing my computer and sit myself down amidst total quiet─no music, no social media─and stay seated until a good first draft is done. I’ll likely revise the piece tens of times, but that first draft is crucial to finding my way to prose or poetry I feel is ready to submit.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Iris N. Schwartz is a fiction and nonfiction writer, as well as a Pushcart-Prize-nominated poet. Most recently, her work has appeared in Grabbing the Apple: An Anthology of Poems by New York Women Writers,  and in such journals as Flash Fiction Friday (178), The Gambler, Gravel, Jellyfish Review, MUSH/MUM Journal, Pure Slush (Volume 12).