I never met the guy. He passed away before I was born and there was nothing I could do about it. I’ve heard stories of him; seen pictures. I suppose we have similar features. That’s all the black and white pictures allow you to see, the rough, outstanding features.
My middle name, Clement, was his first name. Clement Vita. Italian. First generation. Calabria. 1920’s. He and his family immigrated to America. They saw the Statue of Liberty on a brisk morning, perhaps. Seasick, maybe. In awe, definitely.
He settled down in Port Chester, New York, with my grandmother, and worked as a brick layer for most of his life. I’ve been told he had an amazing smile and an amazing presence about him. My mom said he had a temper, but that he still loved her dearly.
I imagine him sitting by the television when it first came out; smoking, drinking. I’ve been told he was a heavy smoker. A lot of people were heavy smokers, though, back then.
I think about him from time to time, especially when people ask me my middle name.
“Clement?” my friend asks.
“Yes, it was my grandpa’s name.” I tell him.
“Cool name,” he says.
“Thanks,” I say back.
I’ve never met the guy so there isn’t much to talk about. After the brief conversation has passed, I’m thinking about him more and more. I grow quiet because I envision him. What was he like? Do we have similar mannerisms? I’ll never know but I’m okay with that.
I’ll never know but I like to wonder about it. Me and him, we live in separate worlds. He lived in a separate world and I’ll never know what it was like to walk in his steps, or talk to him.
But I can feel him. He is in my blood. It is a strange thing to talk about with other people so that’s usually that’s when I go quiet. That’s when I drift into the world in between. Because it exists. Not everyone can access it, but for those who can, it is one hell of a place.