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Strong Roots and White Go-Go Boots

“No matter how challenging one’s past might have been, it’s there to learn from, gain strength and move forward.” (Almquist, 2015)

Val with publishd book

My family roots are embedded deep into my soul influencing thoughts and actions. Considering my father never feared anyone or anything, these roots are strong, weathering many storms while keeping each limb safe and secure. In 2012, at 82-years-old, esophageal cancer spread like a wildfire leaving a gaping hole where his branch once hung.

My father was someone to be admired; growing up poor in a cold-water tenement nestled within an Italian immigrant neighborhood of Newark, NJ, he began working at 7-years-old. His first job was shining shoes on street corners earning a nickel a shine; seeking out the well-dressed guys he referred to as “The Suits” because they tipped a quarter. He was resilient and resourceful from childhood, with plenty of risk-taking adventures he shared with his grandsons. He hurdled any obstacle and held onto the ropes when life threw a tough punch. Eventually, I had to do the same. Although physically alive, I needed to once again feel fully alive.

Divine inspiration interceded when I awoke with an idea to write a historical fiction adventure intertwining world history with memoirs shared by my parents growing up in Newark, NJ during 1939. This call to action was strong; I quit my job and literally began a new chapter in my life writing, LOOK BACK MOVE FORWARD.


Writing LOOK BACK MOVE FORWARD was therapy for me, and an opportunity to sit with my mother and have her reflect back on her childhood. I now perceive the empty space where my father’s branch once hung as the pathway for bestowing sunlight on remaining limbs and seedlings. It’s an inspirational story: Writing allowed the dark cloud hanging over my head, depleting me of energy to dissipate. The light from above awakened my senses breathing life into a body that had not felt fully alive for far too long. I decided to embrace this energy by buying a pair of white go-go boots. When they arrived on my doorstep, I quickly brought them inside and opened the box with unprecedented excitement. With both hands, I peeled off the tissue paper and carefully removed one of the boots from the box. This was much more than a boot; in my hands, was a symbol of my childhood. Memories of: American Bandstand, The Ed Sullivan Show, 1960s Rock and Roll.

From the ankle, I rolled my pants above my knees and tried on the boots. Memories combined with the magic of the boots created an energy surge throughout my body. I began to pony around my home-office, into the living room, and then I ran upstairs to pony in my son’s room only to be told to “get out” because he was studying for a final exam. Approaching 58-years old, I’m older than the go-go boot, but young enough to kick up the heels and rock.