jon parise // monday, april 23, 2018

In The Beginning

Jon Christopher Parise was born in Jersey City, NJ at 1:38 am on the thirteenth of November 1979, the first son of Raymond and Kristin Parise. The newborn, originally expected to arrive two weeks earlier on Halloween, weighed in at nine and a half pounds, a large and healthy baby. The family returned to their new home in Hopatcong, NJ three days later.

Kindergarten

Jon attended kindergarten at Durban Avenue School in Hopatcong, roughly a quarter mile from his home. He was enrolled in one of the two morning kindergarten classes with about twenty-five other students under the guidance of Mrs. Grogan. There, Jon began to make numerous new friends whom he previously hadn't known but who lived nearby.

Every week, new class jobs were assigned. The most prestigious was that of "Flag Holder." This empowered individual held aloft Old Glory every morning while the rest of the class respectfully stood at attention before the flag and dutifully repeated the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the occasional patriotic song.

Like all the children, Jon had his chance at this enviable position, but he also created one of his own. It somehow became apparent to him that the student populace required a liaison to confer with the teacher on mutually substantial matters, so every day during the regimented snack break, Jon would hurriedly finish his cookies and juice in order to pack his things away and stand beside Mrs. Grogan, where they might observe the class and comment upon their noise level or the day's lessons. He shrugged off the other children's queries about this behavior as simple jealousy.

First Grade

Jon continued his formal education at Hopatcong's Durban Avenue School. His first grade class of twenty-five was taught by a Mrs. Brummer. Among other rudimentary skills, such as coloring, arithmetic, and penmanship, Jon learned how to be disciplined. For reasons that escape him now, he was constantly getting into trouble, generally for being disruptive during class time. Mrs. Brummer's trademark punishment was aptly termed the "Greeny Meany." It represented a clever combination of a note home to one's parents and a handwriting lesson. She would compose a brief letter outlining the reasons for the punishment which the student would have to recopy on that flimsy, wide-lined, green paper which was common issue for grades two and under. When the student had finished his task, Mrs. Brummer would sign it and require that it be taken home and returned the following day with an accompanying parent's signature. One would think that this would have had the additional of improving Jon's penmanship skills, but instead, the opposite held true.

Few students liked Mrs. Brummer, and Jon certainly didn't. In addition to the numerous Greeny Meany's he was forced to reproduce, Jon suffered various other abuses, mainly relating to one's personal bathroom habits. On more than one occasion, he was forced to walk home with damp pants because his bathroom schedule didn't match her dictated routine.

Mrs. Brummer was assigned to a second grade class the following year, and luckily Jon was not assigned to her class. She was absent much of the year and a permanent substitute was hired. She died an alcoholic a few years later from a drug overdose.

Dreams

During these times (first and second grade), Jon suffer from the occasional nightmare. One reoccurring nightmare he still recalls dealt with all the spooky symbols meant to scare young children. In the dream, Jon awakes to find himself in his dark room. He rises, opens the doorway, and peers down the hall. To his terror, he sees witches aloft on their broomsticks flying toward his parent's room. After rushing to their rescue, Jon finds his mother lying in bed, showing no signs of fear in response to the circling witches. She just sits there, immobile, and unable to offer any form of comfort.

On the opposite end of the hall, in the kitchen, the knobs of the stove begin to spin by themselves and fly off across the room for now apparent reason. Back in his room, Jon lies frightened in his bed. Slowly, the door of the closet at the foot of his bed open and out of the darkness emerges and skeleton-like being clad in a black and red cloak (that being the reason for Jon's naming him "Dark Cloak"). He slowly descended on Jon's helpless body. It was at that point, every time, that Jon awoke in fear. He would shout continuously for his mother until she came, all the while never lifting his head from under the sheets.

The fear of this "Dark Cloak" affected Jon's sleeping habits for years to come. Jon learned never to sleep flat and elongated lest this being should more easily pull him through the bed covers and slide him into his dark closet realm. Sleeping in that position also left open the possibility that he could become bound like a mummy so that he might not be able to struggle against the evil being. From the first night of that dream, Jon slept curled on his side with his head below the covers.

A few years later, Jon thought he may have outgrown the nightmare. He was mistaken. After yet another reoccurrence, Jon awoke to find himself under the comforter at the base of the bed, one hundred and eighty degrees from his normal sleeping position with his head just a few feet from the closet door. He didn't realize he was in this position at first, for his room was completely dark, but, mysteriously, his closet light was on, and Jon assumed it was the hall light shining beneath his bedroom door.

Also during this time, there was a report of Jon sleepwalking. This entire incident seemed far from normal, however. According to his parents, Jon awoke, left his room, and entered the bathroom which also adjoined his parent's bedroom. He turned on the light and proceeded to brush his teeth. His parent's awoke and asked him what he was doing, to which Jon casually replied that he was simply brushing his teeth.

Friends

Between the ages of five and ten, Jon had many acquaintances but few good friends. The vast majority of his friends were older than him, such as the two older boys that lived down the street, Franky and Bobby. Bobby was four years older than Franky, and Franky was four years older than Jon. In retrospect, it is difficult to isolate the exact basis for the friendship. Bobby was Jon's occasional baby-sitter who used to like to build elaborate models out of Jon's toys. Franky liked to do pretty much the same thing: play with Jon;s toys.

But at that age, the shallowness of this relationship mattered little to young Jon Parise. Instead, he took every opportunity to ride or walk down the street in order to see if either one of the boys were outside and willing to play some game or other. Should they not be outside, Jon would simply ride his bike in circles in front of their home or walk back in forth before the driveway until one of them left the confines of his home. It wasn't until years later that Jon could find the courage to knock on the door and ask for them to come out; at that point, he was content to simply wait.

In 1991, just after Jon had completed the fifth grade, the Parise family left Hopatcong and moved to Great Meadows, NJ. Not only did Jon find a new home waiting for him but also a new life, an opportunity of which he took full advantage. Numerous facets of his personality adapted to his new environment as he sought to make new friends and try new things. This once clean slate has become more cluttered ever since that day.