In the beginning of my life, as far back as I can remember, I have been depressed.
Is it a mental illness, or is it the result of many disappointments and setbacks, that I have endured over the many years of my life. I was one of six children, I was born in Danbury Connecticut, back in February of 1954, and I don’t remember a thing about that day. My mother and father did not live in the state of Connecticut; we all lived in New York. I was told that I had to be rushed back to the hospital soon after I got home, something about my testicles blowing up like balloons. At some point after my birth my family moved to Huston Texas, I have no memory of this move, but my sister that is 2 years younger than me was born in Texas, I don’t have any memory of this, but when I started remembering things, she was simply there, with the other 4, two other brothers and two older sisters, making us a family of 3 boys and 3 girls, me being the fifth born. Now I am about 4 years old and I can remember some things, I have no memory of my mother and father ever living together, but somehow they had 6 kids. I am sure that they did live together at some point, but it ended before I have any memory of it, I have small flashes of Huston Texas, 1 is an old woman telling me to stay off of her lawn, because she put nails in the dirt, and I would cut my feet, another memory was, seeing it rain on the other side of the road, but not rain on my side of the road, this must have been before the depression started, now the dark cloud is always on my side of the street.
The Greyhound bus
The only other memories I have of Huston, was at the Grey Hound bus terminal, I was told to say I was 4 years old, when I was really 5. Me my 2 brothers, two of my sisters and my mother all went for a very long ride from Huston Texas to Spanish Harlem New York, my oldest sister went ahead of us to New York, I did not know where my father was, it seemed like, it was not important to tell me anything at all about anything, but it could be that I was told and simply do not remember.
Many days on the Greyhound bus and we arrive at my grandmother’s apartment, in Spanish Harlem, my grandmother did not speak any English at all, she only spoke Italian, and I did not speak any Italian. Grandma did not have any beds for us, so we pushed 2 kitchen chairs together for me to sleep in.
One day soon after we arrived in New York, 2 men came by, asking about my father, I said I did not see him and did not know why he did not come on the bus with us, they just smiled and talked to everyone else, except my grandmother, you see they did not speak Italian either. As it turns out the 2 men were FBI agents and my father was a wanted man, to this day I do not know what my father was wanted for, but whatever it was, he abandoned his family to run away from it.
The Quiet one
It was around this time that I may have started to become sad, I did not understand anything, and no one told, or explained anything to me, and I was the “quiet one”, when I heard people say that I was the quiet one, it sounded to me, that it was a good thing to be, so I continued to be the quiet one, I did not ask questions, I just listened to what people said, I heard my mother say, when she was pregnant with me, she took a whole bottle of aspirin, because she did not want to have another child with my father, I’m sure she did not know I was in ear shot. My mother was a very kind and loving person, she did not want me to know this information, but being the quiet one, she did not notice that I was within ear shot.
But you cannot, not remember hearing something like that, and so it stuck in my mind.
At some point my mother had to go on welfare to support all of us six kids, we got an apartment in an old brown stone in the building right next to my grandmother’s apartment building. You may be thinking, wow you got to live in an old brownstone, trust me it was a shit hole with mice and roaches. It was a rail road type of apartment, you had to walk through one bedroom to get to the next bedroom, it had 2 gas heating heaters, one at one end of the apartment and the other at the other end, everything in-between was cold, we would huddle around the living room heater to try to get warm, and no A/C at all. And what really sucked was, I had to share a bed with my brother, who did not know how to divide, his “half” of the bed was more like 3/4s of the bed, and I was the quiet one, so that was the way it was.
Now I am in first grade, I am walking along the gate of PS 80 on 120th street towards 1st avenue, fantasizing about how cool I am, when a thought entered my mind, it was a load thought, as if someone was really speaking to me, it said “what’s so special about you Tom”, where the hell does a thought like that come from? I have never been able to get my mind around how that thought got into my head, I was feeling good about myself, everything was okay, but there it was, in a flash, out of nowhere. But I had to try and answer that question, to myself, and I could not, there is nothing special about me, there never was, my father abandoned me, my mother did not want me, no one talked to me, the thought (wherever it came from) was right, there really is, nothing special about me.