In the classic film, The Wiz, Dorothy was lamented by her family as a girl who’s “never been south of 125th Street.” But the longer I live in New York, the more I agree with Dorothy. I have realized that if something that I need isn’t in Harlem, well… I don’t really need it.
The Dollar Tree on 125th is the size of a Hudson’s (do they still make Hudson’s?). 125th is where I can find a CVS while downtown NYC is full of Duane Reade and uptown is full of Rite Aid’s. 125th is one street where every single train that I could possibly need to take– stops. 125th is where people were adorned in purple when Prince died. It’s where African drummers play and tell you to smile, and despite your disdain for street harassment, you oblige.
There are a lot of things that I like about New York. Here are three pros and cons.
- The trains. I like riding the trains in NYC. It’s pretty easy to get to and from where you need to go. It may take a while. But, riding the train means letting go of always being in control. It means reading a book for a while. It means maybe listening to a group of homeless guys sing “My Girl,” in perfect pitch. Riding the trains means traveling while drunk while never worrying about a DUI. Traveling the subway is pretty easy if you can read and use critical thinking. Also, you need a kickass GPS and data plan.
- Money. New York is expensive. But, honestly, in my experience only for rent and restaurants. Groceries are actually cheaper than ATL for me. Now, this may be…in part, because I live in a low-income Hispanic neighborhood. The fruit and vegetables in my neighborhood are fresh and cheap (mainly because I buy them off a cart). The meat is also very cheap and it is fresh cut by a butcher. I also eat WAY more rice than I used to. They sell it at my local store in 35-lb containers. New York taxes took way more out than I expected. I pay NY state and NYC taxes. I also pay the unspoken tax. The loose dollar bills that I have to keep on me to tip single moms who ask for change with their kids on the train, the bucket drummers, and that homeless doo-wop band.
- Being Alone. I was raised an only child. I have a ton of half-siblings. But, I spent my days and nights with just me and my Old G. I have never had a problem being by myself. I like to go out to eat alone, to movies, to parks, etc. Besides, this is 2016. I’m never really alone. I have my phone and all of my apps. I can talk to someone to and fro every destination. Let’s just say if I was ever kidnapped, I left a trail of social media breadcrumbs to follow. But, there are times where I feel sad alone (and not just bedtime either.) I eat off paper plates, but today wanted to feel human and they had my favorite color in the china section of the dollar store. I only needed one plate. But, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I will stick to these biodegradable joints before I buy one damn lonely ass plate.
All in all. I am beginning to fall in love with New York. As I walked to the store to grab a beer, my Dominican neighbors were playing Spanish music on a loudspeaker and a guy came out with a conga drum. There is so much beauty and culture to this city. More care than they want the world to know. The city launched a public safety campaign called, “New Yorkers Keep New York Safe,” and I feel that. It’s a city that KNOWS that it has been through some shit. It’s protective of itself, yet still welcoming. In an age where the country is afraid of “radical Muslims” New Yorkers look out for Muslim women on trains.
It’s more than just a city. It’s a state of mind.
“New York/Concrete jungle where dreams of made of/there’s nothing you can’t do/ now you’re in New York/These streets will make you feel brand new/Big lights will inspire you/Let’s hear it for New York” Jay Z f/Alicia Keys. Lyrics by Genius.com