A Newark Love Story
The Breakup…Life goes on
After Woodstock we kept on dating and having fun.
North Newark was like one big party to us because there was always
something going on somewhere with some one that we knew! But sometimes
we just hung out with close friends or just by ourselves playing
cards or watching TV. It truly was the best of times for me because
I had a beautiful girlfriend, my music and some good friends, what
more could you ask for?
Then, after years of being loyal and very loving to
me, Denise started to grow distant. I tried on more than one occasion
to find out what was going wrong with us but to no avail. When she
was with me, we were fine and then finally one day she brought my
world down on me and told me that she wanted to break up.
I remember I was heartbroken at the prospect of losing
her love. I couldn’t believe that she would leave me but after
numerous encounters afterwards in which she expressed no love for
me, I knew that I was alone. No words can convey the pain I felt
in this period of my life. I truly believe that I cried for at least
a week over this lost and it was probably much longer. We were young,
yes, and the love that we shared was most likely not going to last
forever but I never wanted to face the day when I had to say goodbye.
After all, Denise was the one that showed me what love was all about
in the first place. I never wanted to admit that it could end and
when it did, it was a sad day for me. My heart ached so badly that
I was physically ill a lot of times. I swore that I would keep her
love in my heart and cherish our memories forever. She set the standard
of what I looked for in a woman but sadly, after years of looking,
I can tell you that I never found all those qualities in any one
woman again. And so as time passed, I let her go in my heart and
got on with my life. I came to accept that she was gone and I would
never see her again. This sad chapter in my life was finally closed
after many months of mourning.
I continued on with my musical interests. I wrote
songs about my pain and the love that I lost. I tried to express
myself like never before and played my guitar with all the emotion
that I was feeling. I continued to see groups like the Rolling Stones
and Led Zeppelin up close and in concert. I went to the Fillmore
East in New York City when it was in its heyday and have seen dozens
of rock bands in person. My musical goal was always the same. To
find musicians that were as serious about their music as I was but
sadly, this never happened.
I dated other women and there was even one from North
Newark that I dated for a couple of years. She lived on Summer Avenue
which was a couple of miles from where Denise lived but it didn’t
work out and I never blamed anyone except myself. I wanted so much
to recapture that feeling of love that I had with Denise and believed
that I was subconsciously dooming any new relationship before it
even began. I would see some of Denise’s qualities in a new
woman but then got an entirely different person! As much as I told
myself that this person was not Denise, I still expected her to
act and love me just like Denise did. Even if you were on my side
of the fence, I would call this attitude of mine a problem.
After playing in a band for a while, even my love
for the music was being slowly drained away by the constant problems
with my equipment. I finally decided that enough was enough and
took some electronic courses to learn how to fix the problems myself.
I saved the money that would have gone to the repairs and gave myself
a goal at the same time. At this time in my life I needed just that,
I enrolled in some night courses at Newark College
of Engineering on High Street in downtown Newark. The electronics
education I received from that school was focused on electronic
theory, related math and a lab to get some real hands on practical
experience. Most of my teachers were working engineers from the
surrounding area and while they made some extra cash, I gained a
lot of knowledge by just talking to them. This knowledge eventually
blossomed into a whole career by itself. It led me further away
from my music in one aspect and closer to it in another aspect.
When I finished with these classes, I managed to get a job as an
electronics technician repairing the new portable handheld calculators
that were all the rage at that time. I worked a few years in this
field until I was offered a job as a maintenance and operations
technician at Bendix Field Engineering Corporation based on my electronics
education. The location was a NASA space tracking station in Kokee
Park on the island of Kauai in the state of Hawaii! I mean Wow!
This was definitely a big break for me! It was bitter cold winter
in New Jersey and accepting an all expense paid trip to Hawaii didn’t
seem to be that hard of a decision. My current band was breaking
up due to personality conflicts and there was no girl in my life
at that time, just a couple of friends that were girls! By New Years
day of 1975, I was laying in the sands of Poipu Beach on the island
of Kauai, Hawaii enjoying the sunshine and forgetting all about
the heartaches of the past and the cold winters in New Jersey.
My experience in the islands was totally devoid of
any rock music but there were a lot of other interesting things
about the islands that made me stay two more years after my contract
was satisfied. Because of my Asian heritage I was allowed to see
the real Hawaiian people because no one noticed that I was from
New Jersey until I opened my mouth to speak. They had a distinct
accent that I didn’t try to duplicate and I would constantly
get strange looks from the locals who assumed that I was also a
local except for when I spoke!
The beauty of the islands was unsurpassed. Nowhere
else that I have ever been could hope to match it. Some of the beaches
were pristine and the volcanic mountains made it almost other worldly.
All in all, I spent four years on Kauai and by then, I was more
than ready to say goodbye to that paradise. I started to make plans
and finally headed to Brooksville, Florida where my retired grandparents
lived. But I didn’t stay in Brooksville and managed to land
a job in nearby Orlando within a couple of weeks. I eventually managed
to coax my parents into moving down to Florida for their retirement,
leaving my sister to freeze in the cold winters of Boonton, New
I never heard from Denise while I was living in Hawaii
because she probably didn’t know anything about my good fortune.
There was no internet back them and cell phones were still a dream
and a half away. I knew she didn’t call Verona Avenue home
anymore and the last I had heard was that she had gotten an apartment
with her lifelong girlfriend, Crystal. When I was alone at night
in Kauai, I would drive down to Poipu beach and stare out into the
ocean from the beach in the early evenings. I would often think
about Denise. Many times I couldn’t help but shed some tears
when I did that. I would wonder where she was or what she was doing.
Was she happy? Did she ever fall in love again? It hurt to even
think about those times but most of all, I wished her well. The
days I spent with her and her group of friends in North Newark were
rapidly turning into the best times of my life despite my present
life status on an island of Hawaii!
And so Orlando, Florida came into my life. After
spending the past four years of my life in the weather paradise
of the world, I just couldn’t go back into the cold northeast
now could I??! Only in Florida, I felt that it was time to settle
down and have a family. After a few affairs, I got trapped into
a shotgun marriage that produced my two daughters. Though I knew
that their Mother never loved me, I tried to make the best of a
bad situation and dedicated myself to my children whom I loved more
than life itself. I remember thinking that if something ever happened
to either of them and they needed something from me in order to
live, I would have gladly given up my life for them. It was pure
joy watching them grow up and as the years went by, I fell more
and more in love with them. I felt that I was blessed. I read to
them, played with them and took them to all the theme parks that
Florida had to offer. I was a dedicated father and tried my best
to always be there when they needed me. I bought them their toys,
their clothes, their favorite foods and watched their videos with
them…over and over again!!! I tried with all my soul to savor
every moment with them and then, in an eye blink, they were gone
to build a life of their own. I began missing them almost immediately
and I guess I always will.
Meanwhile my unloving wife of 30 years was steadily
draining me of my money and getting very tired of her whole charade.
How could I stop the bleeding and end the suffering? It had been
going on for years and we’ve had numerous fights about money
and other things but every solution that I came up with she held
me in check with the kids. I knew she would take them from me if
I ever dared to do anything drastic. My love for them had become
her ace up the sleeve and I was powerless. Because of my hearing
loss she controlled the phones and because I usually worked late,
she also controlled the mail. Little did I know that she had opened
numerous joint credit cards that I didn’t know about and defaulted
on all of them, the creditors were after us for over twenty thousands
of dollars but I had no idea what was going on!
In the midst of all this hidden chaos my sister told
me about a website that dealt with Newark, New Jersey called Newark
Memories. People were writing short essays about their lives as
they grew up in Newark. My sister knew I was a story writer from
long ago and urged me to write something about our childhood years
in Newark and so I did. When I submitted my first essay I never
expecting anything to come of it but as the weeks went by, I kept
getting more and more responses from people that knew me or knew
of the things I was writing about. It was fascinating. I met the
person via email that owned my parents house before my family moved
in, a former schoolmate wrote to me about how he now owns that house
and rents it out, a forgotten playground enemy that I punched in
the face who has long since forgiven me for that incident and many
other people who knew my family or were familiar with the family
restaurant that was called Ming’s.
And then it happened. I was surfing the net one day
and decided to check out the Newark Memories site. It was then that
I saw a familiar name attached to an article about North Newark.
I stared at it in wonder and I think my heart skipped a beat. Could
it be? I immediately opened the file and read it. Her style was
fluid and conveyed her unique sense of humor that only people close
to her would know. It was my long lost love, Denise! Even I knew
there was only one family of Russian descent living on Verona Avenue
in North Newark. I was stunned!
For two days I pondered whether or not I should get
in contact with her and in the end, I simply had to find out if
she was happy. The years had past so quickly now that I thought
about it and I wrote her a short email asking her if she remembered
me, the guy who took her to Woodstock. The next day she answered
my email and said that yes, indeed, she remembered me well and had
been trying to get in contact with me for weeks! Denise and I were
both shocked that we found each other again after 40 years! We communicated
constantly by email and brought each other up to date about each
others life during all this time apart. It was amazing how similar
our lives were. It was as if we were still connected by an invisible
force that we knew nothing about. The depth of which our lives coincided
was beyond belief and almost eerie. The common thread was, of course,
our childhoods in Newark. That was tighter bond than we could ever
She also married someone that was not truly in love
with her. She had two girls by him before she realized it was a
mistake but she tried to be a good wife and was damn sure she was
an excellent mother to her children. She loved her children dearly
and focused on her girls just as I did with mine. Her oldest was
born a month before my oldest daughter and our youngest daughters
had the most effect on us both since they are both very special
people to us. With our kids now out on their own, we found out just
how incompatible our mates were with us. Neither of us was happy
and it was very eerie how similar each of our mates was to each
other. We both had married the wrong type of person! Denise and
I found that we still could talk for hours as we went over all the
old times in detail. It turns out that my memories were a lot more
detailed than hers but on some things we were in complete agreement
with each other. Some of our friends from those early days have
past away but some of our closest friends were still alive and still
good friends! I was always amazed at Denise’s ability to maintain
close, long term friendships.
As it came to past, I was the first to get a divorce
and then waited not so patiently for Denise to decide what she was
going to do. I was still sorting out my financial situation that
my ex-wife had left me when Denise informed me of her decision.
She, too, would get a divorce and would join me as soon as she could!
It was beyond belief! Then, after much conversation, we finally
decided to meet each other in Newark, New Jersey where it all started.
We would come full circle and start our love anew after so many
years apart. We both knew in our hearts that this was the way it
was meant to be and our biggest mistake was letting each other go
all those years ago.
I took a flight out of Orlando and because of a cancellation
with the connecting flight from Charlotte to Newark; I was left
stranded and waiting for standby flights that didn’t pan out.
I didn’t give up though; I went from airline to airline for
anything that went to Newark and finally arrived at Newark airport
tired and aggravated at 1am in the morning. I was walking towards
a car that I thought was Denise’s when she called me on my
cell phone and told me to turn around; I was walking away from her.
I hung up my cell phone and turned around to see Denise standing
by her car smiling at me. Long brown hair just like I remembered
her and with a sweet smile that took my heart away once again. I
walked quickly towards her, feeling the excitement building in me.
The air had a little crisp coldness to it that was carried on a
slight breeze as I increased my pace. When I was close enough, I
dropped my bags on the ground and went quickly into her waiting
arms. I kissed her with all the passion that my love could muster…
and she kissed me back just as passionately. We hugged each other
for minutes that seemed like seconds as if we were reassuring ourselves
that this was real, that this was at long last love…….once