II. Enjoying the View
Departure and Arrival, Mattapoisett Shores, birth of the neighborhood crew, all-star teams, triple-headers, 2nd grade teacher who conspicuously picked her nose, Halloween, hearing the Beatles for the first time, Patriots games, winning my Huffy bike, fishing trips, and creating relationships that remain today.
The one place that shaped me
I could never erase these,
Things in my mind that define all that makes me.
Take me, back to the days of my youth,
Where our filters weren’t existent and we searched for the truth.
Where we spent so many days talking life and trying to find,
How to answer all these questions that were filling up our mind.
At the time we couldn’t see it but we lived it and embraced it,
Take me back to just a second, I just wanna taste it.
I wrote this poem/verse a couple years back, I believe it was the summer following senior year. Although it’s a bit dated, it all remains true. The poem is of course about the Neighborhood I moved into in Mattapoisett. It highlights how truly phenomenal of a time it was back then, and how we soaked up every moment of it. There’s no doubt in my mind that without the Neighborhood I wouldn’t have many of what I deem to be some of my most positive characteristics. I learned a lot, we all grew up together, and still are.
Before I jump into the neighborhood too much, I must reel it back in. Although the neighborhood house was our final resting area I can’t neglect our 1 year pit stop we made at another house, (also in Mattapoisett). This house, at first glance, was not my idea of a nice house by any means. My parents quote me to this day saying when the car pulled up I exclaimed “I’m not living here, this house is YUCKY!”. Sound like a goddamn spoiled brat. In my defense the house was certainly never featured in better homes n gardens; however like almost all of Mattapoisett housing it was prime real estate. Right near the water. Being within walking distance of the water is a luxury that is priceless. The beach was right down the road and had a raft that all the kids used to play on, a basketball hoop, the works. The house itself was very small and not anyone’s favorite but was just a place to stay until we found our now permanent spot.
Harbor Beach was the area we rented in. Cool little neighborhood, some families with kids, but mainly a bunch of wealthy summer folk (which is to be expected). Mattapoisett is a perfect place for two demographics, 30 something’s raising a family, and retirees. As far as the young adult category which I am in, it’s a bit dull. In the same breath, I can’t complain. I live on the ocean. I live near a ton of people my age. I appreciate all that I’ve been given by my parents including our house and location. The town itself is small with not too too much to do for people like me in their young 20’s , there’s only so many times you can sit at Ned’s Point and get Nick’s pizza. Even with that being said, it really is a great town and I’m proud to say I was raised here. Mattapoisett is apparently a Wampanoag term for “a place of resting”, which is certainly fitting. I could sit at the beach and just reflect for hours upon hours. It’s definitely a relaxing area, sometimes now a little too relaxing. Although, lying on the hammock, swimming, boating, and skipping rocks are pastimes that will never become old or boring to me.
I can’t recall much from that first house but what I can I’ll give to you in a brief almost bulleted-sentence. My English professors would not approve but I’ve always hated redundancy so I’ll get right to the point. Spent most of my time upstairs in the loft area. Played football video games (Blitz,Madden) at the neighbors. Played manhunt/hide and seek with other neighbors who were at the time considered “trouble makers”. Looking back they were, just weren’t a good bunch but hey we played some fun games of manhunt. I can remember one of the kids used to always rip his shirts intentionally and just turn them into bracelets and headbands and would just have threads all over his body. I don’t know why but whenever I think of them I just see that kid on his peg bike riding around with streamers of clothes flying around. To each their own. Aside from these few things our 1st house in Mass is kind of a blur to me. However, my school days during that time (1st grade) are not a blur at all.
First things first
Mrs. Evans first grade class. Hands down the best educational experience I’ve ever had. The class was what every classroom and teacher optimistically sets out for. That being, an atmosphere which breeds not only collaborative learning, but also excitement and enthusiasm. We had that. Now you may say, of course it was fun, it was 1st grade. And my counter to that would be, no. This class really had it all. In addition to an amazing teacher and the various activities and trips we went on, we had a really good group of kids. Owen, Patrick, Jono, Kara,Madison,Tess, I know I’m forgetting tons of people but we had a core group of kids who just all had a ton of fun, for lack of a better word. We used to play trivia where each team would make up different questions and stuff and there would be prizes at the end. Sounds relatively normal but I know anyone who has had Mrs. Evans knows and will attest to it, she knew how to get kids engaged. I still will occasionally see her around Mattapoisett and say hello, real pleasant lady. Actually, she made and appearance at our Senior Prom Pictures at the Warf. It was really nice to get everyone back together and we ended up taking a few pictures with her. That’s a cool aspect about the tri-town; you can go a while without seeing someone and then see them 5 times in a week. You always, to some extent, know what people are up to. Which I suppose, can also be a downside. Nearly everything you do people will hear about through the grapevine, so you have to be careful. That sounded a little drastic, but just the normal stupid growing up stuff you do you don’t necessarily want being public, sometimes surfaces. That’s the tri-town though, can’t go to Cumby’s without seeing 3 people you know.
Those interactions are important though. Just your everyday, see someone at the gas station conversations. Although they are light and quick it’s nice to see and hear how people are doing. It’s amazing to see how people’s lives are progressing. Some people are doing things you never would’ve expected, others maybe are doing exactly what you expected. Either way it’s just interesting, for me at least, to chat for a few minutes and see even just the high level stuff taking place in someone’s life. It’s also a unique feeling to be able to jump right back into a conversation or a memory that you may have had 3 years prior. In high school for instance there are people you saw and talked to everyday that now you don’t see for months and months. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, people are on their own paths and living their lives but there is something to be said for the ability to pick up right where things left off and reminisce on past times.
I should include in my 1st grade years my obsession with a little known band called The Beatles. I loved them, still do. They have the capability to alter moods, opinions, and really entire lives of people. For me, I can’t pinpoint what about them hits me so hard. The harmonies, the resonating lyrics, the rhythm, all of it together, it was powerful. My first encounter with their music was actually a Beatles cover band I saw at a local theatre. Small venue but damn I can still remember that first riff for “I saw her standing there” the first track I heard from them. It blew me away. I can remember the exact view of the stage and just thinking , wow, this kind of music is possible. And that was merely a cover act. Immediately following my dad and my uncle introduced me to various albums all of which I drowned myself in. Rubber Soul, Abbey road, Peppers, Magical Mystery Tour, you name it I was listening to it. I only later realized how profound and insightful some of the stuff they were saying really is. I’ve learned a lot from Beatles music, a lot. I’ve learned a lot from music in general. There’s multiple other artists who I could mention as influential and informative in my personal life ( Billy Joel, Dylan of course). I’d throw some others in the mix but none, none hold a candle to The Beatles. They really are , for me at least incomparable to any other act. What they did was new, it was honest, and they kicked ass while doin’ it. Their music transcends time and generations and will continue to do so.
I needed to add my 2 cents, or maybe even more about the Beatles. They were big to me during my younger days, and still are. I’ve always been open to listen to really any type of music. One day I’ll be listening to classic rock, next some reggae/sca group,hip-hop, jazz,nearly anything and everything. A big aspect of music for me is the passion the artist puts into it. When you can feel it, it gives you the chills, it makes you cry, that’s when you know the artist has reached you. Admittingly I listen to some music with no substance what so ever (as far as lyrics and talent go) but if it gets you goin, play it loud.
Music is a very powerful substance. It has the ability to sway your mood in many different directions and also to take you back to certain moments in time. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a song and it has reminded me of an old friend or brought me back to a certain situation or event where the song was playing. Every time I hear Paul Simons “I know what I know” it brings me back to a night in Newport at my friend Cormier’s summer house. His older brother was playing the song all night or at least while the pre-game activities were taking place, and for some reason it has always stuck. Likely because we drunkenly sang it what must have been 30 plus times. There were a lot of funny happenings that night. Me thinking it was socially acceptable to take my shirt off in a dreadfully hot pizza place, Kate Middleton (another tri-town native) yelling obscenities at a cop car not recognizing his window was down. However none compare to when we snuck our way into a private, exclusive party on the docks. We were half a dozen high school seniors deep in the middle of a somewhat prestigious crowd whose next youngest was at best 30. Still to this day I don’t know how we managed to pull it off, especially while wearing bathing suites and Ts. Could be that our dance moves gave the party some much needed life. It was blatantly apparent that we were not supposed to be there but I think our fun-loving attitudes won people over and stimulated some dancing and singing that was absent previously.
Energy, the one thing I can nearly always rely on. I’m rarely tired. And even when I am I still have the mentality to go, go, go. It’s a blessing and a curse I suppose. It’s fun but there are also times I wish I had the will power to not be running around place to place thing to thing, but rather stop and enjoy the moment. And moreover, relax. Relaxation is beneficial not only for physical health but also a chance to look at things in perspective and for me it can often be when inspiration strikes. Granted, inspiration hits me every day and you never know when it is going to. I find if you set yourself up to be inspired, you won’t be. You’ve placed too much pressure and importance on finding inspiration when in actuality it was staring at you the whole time. I’ve gotten inspiration to write, to change behaviors, to do a lot of things from situations you would never expect. Sitting at a red light, being given attitude from a stranger, seeing other peoples extreme emotions, millions of different micro- occasions that have been the catalyst for bigger insights. Not all come from small things; inspiration for me also comes from areas you’d expect them to come from. Death, love, music of course, seeing others struggle, seeing others succeed. Fear is a historically well-known motivator. Some people want to do well so they aren’t regarded as a screw up. Some people want to do well so they are regarded as successful. I think both are useful tools and ideologies, definitely. I’ve never been one to subscribe to one specific school of thought or method. I try to take what I can from a variety of sources and slowly begin to formulate my own strategy, which believe me I’m still working on. I’ll be sure to let you know once it’s perfected. Which unfortunately or fortunately depending how you look at it, will never happen. We can never have a certain lifestyle or belief system that never fails us, it’s impossible. There will, without exception, be times when no matter how strongly you believe you are doing the right thing, that “right thing” will fail you. The positive side is that you are always capable of growing from that. Knowledge is an amazing asset but it is useless without experience. People who have gone through rough, dark, times, or even very high positive times will attest to the fact that they change you. Sometimes not drastically, sometimes not immediately, but they do change you. Hopefully in the long-run you can see the impact they had and the change it made for the better.
But yes, music, memories, the nostalgic impact it can have is something we’ve all felt. I know off the top of my head a few more songs that spark memories. Van Morrison-into the mystic (infamous Scarborough beach day with friends jr.yr.). Lil Wayne- La la la (golf team car rides). Keane- Somewhere only we know (my brother Ian, and the neighborhood). Slightly Stoopid-Officer ( every summer party and another one of my brothers, Matt). Wax-Rosana(the Bryant crew freshman year). Billy Joel-Summer Highland Falls(my dad who introduced it amongst other great songs to me). There’s many more, I mean shit; almost every song I hear reminds me of someone or some memory. Wow, how far we have drifted from talking about elementary school. It happens. That’s always been a cool thing to notice when you’re talking with someone, the path that your conversation took. Sometimes it’s relatively structured (sports, weather, jobs,). However with certain people and your true friends you tend to bounce all over the place, which is a good thing. Having free reign to discuss what you desire is very valuable. I’m fortunate enough to have a handful, maybe two handfuls of people I can really vent anything to. And of course, receive their “vents” if you will. Guess I’m taking that liberty with all of you, I hope you don’t mind. If you did you most likely wouldn’t be this far in.
Okay so we’ve covered 1st grade, for now at least. 2nd grade. We finally move to the new digs. The first day we got there I knew I would love it. I walked down the street and met what turned out to be a couple of my truest friends, I consider them brothers. Nick and Ian Gray. Think we played basketball down on their hoop, in the driveway or something. Whatever it was it didn’t matter I could just tell these kids liked to do the same things I did which was have a lot of fun and goof around. Another older neighborhood kid was there too (Paul). You’ll here more about him and the entire neighborhood crew later. We have had thousands(no exaggeration) of hangouts throughout the years from golfing in the backyard, playing wiffle ball, boating, basketball,pickle,manhunt,playing video games, trampoline,football,skateboarding I could go on and on. The Grays and our family have grown very close throughout the years and we both have had eachothers backs through thick and thin. The first time I really understood how close we truly were was when my grandfather passed when I was 8. I was almost too young to understand what had happened or why he was gone, it was scary. The Grays were there for our family and me offering not only condolences but complete support. I can just picture being in nick an ians room and talking with all of them briefly about it, and them saying the simplest things to make me feel better. That’s when it hit me how much respect and care both families have for eachother. I’ve noticed in life that your true friends will shine through brighter than ever in the midst of a crisis. The Grays have remained consistent throughout all the years, thanks guys.
Soon after I would meet the Perkins Lane group of kids.Perkins lane is a street right near highland view and was where a bunch of kids our age lived. Perkins lane was the hotspot for football,sledding, and just hanging out with everyone. I’ll introduce everyone more in epth the Neighborhood chapter but there were the Morses, the Adlers, and Matt and Meghan Kelly who became some of my closest friends. Matt has been a loyal friend since day one. We’ve both had each other’s back through everything. We’ve seen each other at our absolute worst and Matt has never failed to come through when shit hits the fan. He’s told me multiple times he wouldn’t be here without some of the things I’ve done for him, and I can proudly say the same to him. Matt is no stranger to close shave’s.He has pushed his luck more than a few times but luckily, he’s here. This is a guy who really just wants to see his friends succeed and always has been someone who doesn’t even need to ask you what’s goin on, he knows, he’s been there. Plus, regardless of what it is he’s got you. His presence helps enormously and lets you know someone is there for you and understands what you’re going through. I can’t count how many we’ve picked each other up and simply talking, cruising and playing good tunes has remedied whatever it is that was troubling us. We grew up together, we know everything there is to know and more about one another. We learned how to live together.