Maggie sipped her tea, then said, “But I’ve lived here for 45 years. This is my home. All my memories live here.”
This is just a scene from my recently published novel, Memories Live Here. Maggie is just a fictional character.
Despite its title, Memories Live Here (available on Amazon and locally at Scattered Books) is not a book about “memories” of my life in Chappaqua or Brooklyn or Chicago or any of the other places I’ve lived. It’s a thriller mystery and family drama about three brothers who uncover their dead mother’s diaries (her friend Maggie’s been keeping them), and how a “rendezvous” with artificial intelligence helps them discover the hidden truth behind their father’s mysterious death. While not autobiographical, each character does seem to carry traits of the people I’ve known throughout my life.
Two years removed from our life in Chappaqua, I realize the title of my book is very much true. Our “memories” do reside in the places we’ve lived, ready to jump back into our heads.
My wife Hildy and I raised our two children on Deerfield Road, where we lived for over twenty years. In Chappaqua, I often thought my nickname was “Oh, you’re Hildy’s husband!” After all, Hildy was the recognizable figure around town: Board member of the Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund, substitute nurse at Roaring Brook, car-pool mom, not to mention head lice checker. Hildy was everywhere.
As for me, I had the typical crazy, high pressure job. Even if you didn’t know me, you had to recognize the pattern. You know, I was the one who worked long hours; hosted too many client dinners; amassed frequent flier miles.
But when my day or week was done, I was always comforted to come home to Deerfield Road, turn everything off, and just be “Hildy’s husband” and “Noah and Perri’s dad.” Our home in Chappaqua was a place to decompress, do the dishes, play in the snow, go for long walks, drive the kids around to whatever activity of the day, enjoy family meals. I felt so fortunate. It was a great time in our lives.
Every time I return to town, whether to pick up food at Old Stone or eat with friends at Le Jardin (“outside, please, Joe”), memories from the past are “triggered,” and multiple scenes emerge from the recesses of my mind.
I blinked my eyes and the children became adults and moved on to follow their own passions.Yet still, every time I return to town, whether to pick up food at Old Stone or eat with friends at Le Jardin (“outside, please, Joe”), memories from the past are “triggered,” and multiple scenes emerge from the recesses of my mind.
Driving down King Street, I can still see Noah and Perri coming out of the old Chappaqua diner, or running around the baseball and softball diamonds in front of Bell Middle School. Making my way up route 120, I can see my two dogs, Pixie and Clyde, racing and splashing through the wooded trails of Gedney Park; and that’s my family cruising up the north county bike trail. On the ballfield behind Rocky’s, there I am with the neighborhood guys playing touch football (I still have my “Deerfield and Dave” baseball cap).
Even scary memories can conjure up positive reflections. For me, it’s the scene of my car accident where Reader’s Digest Road crosses the Saw Mill Parkway (Please, everyone. Look both ways, even after that light turns green)! While I walked away with minor bruises from that collison, I can still see those professional and dedicated volunteers from the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corp. coming to help. I will always be grateful.
These days, in the words of John Lennon, I’m “no longer riding on the merry-go-round.” While Hildy started a private geriatric care management practice, I get to spend my time traveling on a path full of stories and characters and ideas, certain there are more books to write in the years ahead.
As far as the past, well, I’m comforted to know my memories will always be there, waiting for me in Chappaqua.