I have tried to find my grandmother's apartment from my early childhood on previous visits, but couldn't quite be sure which building it was, since everything is even more run down now than it was then. But a couple of months ago I suddenly remembered her address,and after checking with google maps, I knew it was correct.
So I walked there yesterday. The area can only be described as a slum, and unfortunately I have to leave my valuables (phone, camera) at my father's house when I go out walking. But I found Gram's apartment. It looks like a regular house, but it is and was a four-family.
I was eager to revisit the special garden in back which had been so fascinating so many years ago. It was a flower garden which had its own little cement sidewalk outlining its perimeter. Gram and I slowly, respectfully, reverently traveled that path every time I could talk Gram into it. (She probably felt like a trespasser, when in fact the landlady may have enjoyed seeing others appreciate the fruits of her labor).
I was so taken by the little tree bearing beautiful berries at the back of the garden that I begged Gram to find out what type of tree it was from Mrs. Thetga, and then I nagged her every day until she finally gave in and bothered Mrs. Thetga with the question. It was a Mountain Ash.
I was afraid to go behind the building to the stairs to her back second floor apartment, but the allure of the garden summoned my courage. (I was afraid of being shot. It's that kind of place.)
I guess it wasn't that big a surprise that the garden was gone, replaced by grass, weeds and rusting metal.
But the Mountain Ash still stood. It looks weary and lacks the orange red berries it should have at this time of year. But it's there, guarding the ghost of a long ago garden.
In my memory, the garden was enormous, and our walks through it were adventures. But yesterday I saw its actual size. How can such a small space create such huge memories?