Where did you grow up?

I was born in Queens, New York, but my mother moved us to Brooklyn by the time I’d reached six months old. My very earliest memories are from an apartment we had on 16th Avenue in Bensonhurst.

In my fourth year, we moved to live permanently in our Pennsylvanian summer house, though we only lived there for about a year before moving back to Brooklyn by way of my great aunt’s house in Queens.

By the time I was six, my mother, my two-year-old sister, and I were living with my grandparents’ apartment in a big, red apartment building on Ocean Parkway and Avenue R. Soon after, we got an apartment in the same building, on the same floor, but up the elevator on the other side of the building. Being close to my grandparents meant that very early, my sister and I were trusted to stay in the apartment alone because family was just two elevator rides away. I distinctly remember our cooking experiments and listening to the sea gulls when they flew far enough inland from Coney Island.

We spent most of my childhood in that apartment. I went to P.S. 215 for kindergarten, but both my sister and I were quickly tested for specialness and were found “special.” I was bussed to P.S. 188 for first to fifth grade and I.S. 239 for junior high, ending my early education at Brooklyn Tech for high school.

Just after my senior year, I moved into my first apartment on West 5th Street and Avenue S with an income from my job scooping ice cream at Spumoni Garden and a bit of a scholarship from Brooklyn College.