“Postscripts From Poughkeepsie”

Memoir by Chucky Bologna

I will think of this in relatable terms. Transplanting and uprooting. I have been plucked and plopped down in a new environment to set new roots and seek the nourishment in my new surroundings to help this process. 

Having been in the landscaping business for nearly 30 years, I have transplanted and uprooted many plants. Some with care and others merely thrown indecorously into a compost pile to survive however they can, and then, to my amazement the following season, I find that this plant took what it could from its surroundings and thrived. 

Can I be as resourceful? I have recently been transplanted from a place where I had set very deep roots for nearly 54 years. Where I have the very best of friends, family, and enough memories to last a lifetime but . . . to continue on this theme, landscapes change over the years. 

Canopies of trees become dense, and where once the sun shone is now only shade. I had stopped growing. The stimulus I needed to continue had been crowded out. Sometimes, as with plants, we need our roots shaken up a bit to encourage growth. I am venturing out slowly, meeting people, and have taken to drinking craft beer.

I was uprooted for the first time on a hot July day in 1963 when our parents stuffed their family of five into a green Ford and drove the impossibly long length of the island from Queens to East Hampton. 

I thought I had fallen off the ends of the Earth and was miserable all summer until school started, I made friends, and thus began the nourishment of that transplant. 

My dad was just 35 and Mom only 30 when they moved with 3 children, leaving behind everything they had ever known. I’m sure they too were feeling stagnant, and their growth spurt after shaking up their roots is a story epic in proportion. How brave they were.

East Hampton will always be my home, but I am finding it so exciting to embark on a new adventure. I will slowly take stock and step out to create a new landscape. I will start close to home, renovating the 1880s building we bought and then, this spring, the garden. 

Perhaps I’ll get a part-time job and meet new colleagues or go to the little coffee shop around the corner a couple of mornings each week and become friends with the owner. The first thing I did was get a library card to sustain my reading habit over the long cold Hudson Valley winter.

 There are dozens of small neighboring villages that will need to be explored, and very close to home is the C.I.A. where I might take a course in bread baking. Yes, that C.I.A.

All this has yet to be determined, but it’s all about possibilities. I will spend the winter healing from shoulder surgery and then carry on creating new memories for this chapter of my life. 

I am far from done with East Hampton. My family remains there, including my son and daughter-in-law, and a lifetime of friends. Not to mention the forever clamming license that weighs heavy in my wallet.

I am taking a new joy in being surrounded by mountains and the different beauty they afford. The Hudson River will be sufficient to quench any desire I have to be near the water. 

So to all of you who have been wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth over my move I say this: I haven’t left you, I’ve merely moved to a different part of the garden so I could hold my face to the sun once more and grow. Perhaps to become a better friend, mother, and sister. 

So begin my postscripts from Poughkeepsie.

 


Chucky Bologna’s memoir pieces about growing up in East Hampton have been previously published by The Star.