Skank Avenue

Yesterday representatives from one of our vendors visited our office and took me and my colleague out to lunch. These are people that I’ve ever only spoken to over the phone and I’m the newest one to the mix so there was a lot of “where are you from” and “where have you worked before” type questions. I discovered that the main sales person also grew up in my hometown, Great Neck, NY. Great Neck is on the North Shore of Long Island. It was (and still probably is) an extremely affluent community. It had an excellent school system and that is why my parents moved there. Our family never quite achieved the level of financial success and security as the rest of our community. Except for a short stint in a rented house when I was in elementary school we lived in apartments my entire time there. Most of the time was spent in a two bedroom apartment on Schenck (pronounced SKANK) Avenue. The name of my street pretty much sums up my feeling about the place and my experiences living there. We did not have happy times in that apartment. After my brother and I moved out my parents downsized to an even smaller apartment in the same building so they could afford to invest in an apartment in Brooklyn (the sale of which enabled them to buy their current house). My brother had to move back in with them for a while and thankfully I didn’t have to spend a whole lot of time with them all there in that place. My brother wasn’t doing well at all at the time and my parents have a way of constantly reminding you of your failures. Those were truly dark days for him. Life in Great Neck was challenging outside of our apartment as well. I attended high school during the shiny newness of the Reagan presidency. In fact, I remember being in 8th grade science and hearing a PA announcement telling us that our new president had been sworn in and the hostages has been freed. All through junior high, middle school and into high school I felt enormous pressure to fall into step with what every other kid was doing, wearing, saying, thinking – being. I know that everyone says this and many many people feel this way about their youth but I don’t know – Great Neck just felt different. Maybe I was just too sensitive for the place but I felt openly ridiculed for being different. It wasn’t until I was in 10th grade that I learned to embrace my differences and be the theater geek I was born to be.

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