MICHELE / 622 Clifton Ave
I grew up in Perth Amboy, NJ, across the Arthur Kill from Staten Island, NY. But some of my best childhood memories are of staying at my Nonna's house in rural NJ surrounded by farmland, eating and canning just-picked tomatoes. A happy place to me looks green and lush – forests and gardens – and turquoise and cool, like the oceans and rivers.
I like the colors red and black for their boldness and anonymity. The interior of my historic home presents as brown, but a warm, earthy brown from the chestnut woodwork and mixed hardwood floors. I most prefer a light and airy environment, but I also like large, enveloping patterns, like American wallpaper patterns from the '40s.
Some favorite plants and flowers are basil, fragrant and edible, and purple hydrangeas. Aspects of nature infuse my history with the look and smell of forests, the tactile spirit of pinecones, and the shape, texture, and taste of fiddlehead ferns. Australian Shepherds feature prominently in my past.
Pasta of all shapes and sizes, especially farfalle - the butterfly - is a family staple. The Italian heritage of my family is important to me, as is its accompaniments of camaraderie and forgiveness. Cultural practices like holiday gatherings and objects like my Grandmother Nella's simple crocheted Christmas ornaments are essential. We celebrate our culture by inviting people to dinner parties on the back porch. Astoria, Oregon, where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean, is a place that holds special significance to me.
I connect to the historical aspects of Newark, its original elegance, industrial growth, emigration paths, and continuing struggles. Newark's role as a transportation hub and the ease of traveling by train and bus are appealing and leveling. All of my ancestors moved from other countries to the US: though poor and uneducated, they managed to have families and make a life in a free world, a struggle parallel to Newark today – one makes of it what one can. I want to promote the preservation of traditions in the community, including the historic preservation of our buildings