I’m moving today. Right now in fact. As I type, I sit in my leisure chair, in the lobby of my building, surrounded by all my worldly possessions. At the last 15 minutes of the two hour window my movers were scheduled to arrive, I brought all things I could manage on my own- everything but my mattress and armoire- downstairs. I was scheduled to work this afternoon and thought I would expedite the process. Here I sit, an hour later, and no movers have arrived. So much for getting to work. Now in the addition to the $150 it costs to move, I’m not making any money today. I’m not happy. The cliché is moving in New York sucks and I made the mistake of not planning for the worst. Let this be a lesson: trust clichés.
So I spend the last hour that I can call the Upper West Side my home camped out like the homeless who line the border of Central Park at 1AM. All I need is a shopping cart and to lose the laptop at my fingers and the look would be complete. Though it’s not dropping to the level of bum, my status is about to significantly change. I’ve seen the look on people’s faces when I tell them I live on West 64th Street. Looks that say “she must do well to afford that area” or “I bet her parents help pay the rent” (they don’t). For three years I have lived in a highly desirable neighborhood thanks to a lease signed in the depths of the recession and a housing project which occupies the same block.
I once had a police officer acquaintance insist I allow him to outfit me with mace when he heard where I live. Perhaps the police reports speak differently, but I have never had a problem with any of the people on my block, not even the guys who loiter by the park next door until 3AM.
Two nights ago, I was walking home at 10:30PM. I crossed the street and a handsome young black fellow said to me, “Don’t worry.” “Why would I be worried?” I replied.
“Most people get scared when they walk this block,” he said.
“Oh,” I said, amused, “I live on this block.”
“I got you,” and then barely a beat, “Well, you’re beautiful.” He stated, no intention in his tone. “Have a good night.” He said and veered off into the park.
“Thanks.” I said, over my shoulder. He wasn’t a man fleeing the scene, embarrassed by his words. He had spoke them with full confidence. Nor was he a man using a compliment hoping to gain affection. It felt strangely innocent, pure. I walked the rest of the way home with a smile on my face.
One of the last times I ever walked that walk home.
I’ve completed this post and my movers still haven’t arrived but I’m a little happier. I’ll be even happier once I’ve settled into my new place in Upper Manhattan: Hamilton Heights, West 150th Street. I’ll fit right in, it’s an area crawling with actors and artists. I have perhaps a dozen friends who will now be my neighbors. Still, it is Harlem and I said I should trust clichés… If I ever see my police officer friend again, I may accept his mace offer.