Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Connecting With An Important Part Of My Life That Disappeared 40 Years Ago

When you were a young child did you ever have a really good friend who suddenly disappeared? 

Either their parents moved, stealing away your friend, or your parents did something so horrible - and forced you to move away from your 'life' and your friends? Either way - the safe, trusting world as you knew it was destroyed in moments!

I will never forget the day when, as a young boy growing up in Brooklyn, my very good friend Victoria Vaccariello parents made her move away from our Mill Basin community on January 25th, 1973.

I'll never forget when the moving truck containing all of her family's possessions ... taking away the Vaccariello's kitchen table, couch, and . . . Victoria!!!

Forty years later, I still remember crying on my stoop (where I was the king of stoop ball) as Victoria drove away.  I was so upset that even when my parents took me to Buddy's Amusement Park to take me on some rides in hope to cheer me up, that no roller coaster was able to stop the tears.

I remember vivid details about my childhood and the time I spent with Victoria, including how we would spend so much time together, starting in the morning, when my mom would drive us to school. In fact, before she moved away, we were inseparable, so much so that I gave her chicken pox!  And at times after school ended at PS 203, but always on Tuesday we would go for pizza - which, 40 years later, I now realize why I love pizza so much: it was a tradition that Victoria and I did with our parents; usually with my mom because she is a pizza fanatic, too! And now I know where the 'eating pizza on Friday nights' came from. Remembering ... we would eat pizza often at Victoria's parent's house on Friday night!

But perhaps the one thing that I remember most, and I am not exactly sure when it was, other than to know it happened during the time that I spent with my best friend during the time I was between 5 and 8 years old . . . but I started to think on my own, and as odd as it may sound, I learned that I had a voice . . . that I was an individual . . . ummm . . . with plenty to say!

Funny how looking back at that time, and reflecting about this over the last 20 hours, I realize that it was during the time that I was between 5 and 8 that the foundation of who I am took root. And who was there beside me?  My best friend, Victoria.

Sadly, she moved far away, and pragmatically, the ideals of the promises of 'I will come visit you every other weekend' were out of our own control. 

Now it is not a news flash that our world is becoming closer. 

Amazingly closer and more connected.

I received an email message on Facebook that read:

Hi-is this the Peter from Brooklyn?  I believe we were very good friends as children, until I moved to Long Island in 3rd grade. You have two younger brothers, I have two younger sisters, and my mom Peggy was friends with your mom... You gave me chicken pox Maybe you don't remember me, but ... I thought I would reach out!

It was my friend Victoria, who had been missing for the past 40 years!!
And in the midst of a rather hectic day, I must say, I have not stopped smiling.
Victoria and I have emailed one another a few times since her first "I thought I would reach out!".  And I she is expecting my telephone call, which I will do one hour from the time I post this message.
I have said life is amazing and filled with magic.  Well, last night life decided to share a little 'extra' magic with me.
As for Victoria, I am pleased to say that she has become an accomplished architect including designing buildings at NASA's Goddard Center (one of my dream places - as I have previously written ... who knew!!!) and recently build NIH's massive research facility, while also becoming one of the major building designers in Washington, D.C. - a town I am in all the time due to my work with the I CARE Foundation.  Who knew!!!  Most importantly, she has a beautiful family . . . and in 90 minutes from now, I am going to call her!

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