The stoops of New York City have been calling out to me.
There’s something about late summer that makes me long to sit on a perfect New York cliché stoop and talk the twilight hours away. Perhaps on the phone with a far away friend, perhaps with a man who’s walked me home from a date. Perhaps with an ice cream cone in hand, maybe even a glass of wine in a covert cup.
Stoops are the metropolitan porch swing, the veranda of the concrete jungle. I’m obsessed.
My building doesn’t have a proper stoop. It has two stairs up, and that’s it. Barely a step up from sitting on a curb. I never find myself thinking about my dream apartment. I fantasize about my dream stoop. A perfect perch for people watching. A good number of stairs to provide a fair distance from the sidewalk so I can share secrets with out the whole neighborhood hearing. So I can smooch on my stoop with enough time to disengage if someone starts climbing the stairs.
There’s something terribly romantic about stoops.
Is it terrible that I want to befriend this man just so I can sit on his stoop? Fall is just around the corner. I know warm nights are soon to be a thing of the past. Summer is my favorite season, I want to spend every last-minute that I can basking in humidity. Sometimes I want to escape the crowds and the din of the city: the bars, the streets, even the parks. A simple stoop would solve all my problems…
The whole month I’ve experienced major stoop envy. Walking through neighbors on the Upper East Side, in Chelsea, even my neighborhood- Hamilton Heights, and taking pictures of beautiful stoops. Residents must have thought I was a creep, perhaps a paparazzi (are they ever women?).
Last week everything changed. My stoop-lusting was brought to a swift and immediate halt.
In the middle of the night I was jolted awake by the sound of three rapid sounds. BANG BANG BANG! Must be a car back firing was the conclusion my sleep clouded mind jumped to. No big deal. Time to go back to sleep.
But I couldn’t go back to sleep. People began shouting. I heard a woman’s voice repeating a horrified “Oh my God! Oh my God!” and the smack of her shoes as she ran down the side-walk below my window. My window, five stories up from the street. High enough that I didn’t feel unsafe, even as it became very clear that I had heard gun shots. Panicked voices cried out and then a groan of agony echoed down the city block. Someone was hurt. Should I call some one? Did I need to do something? A moment after the consideration, sirens joined the cacophony of noises. My roommates and I shut our windows, blocking out the scene. We stood in our pajamas, shaken.
A man was shot and killed on our street, a mere five doors down from us. He had been sitting on his stoop at 2AM in the morning. It’s the worst kind of New York cliché. No one knows the story behind the murder, we assume drug activity.
It’s strange. Since this incident, I do not feel unsafe in my home. I have no plan to move to a different neighborhood. However, I am a bit more cautious at night. Additionally, my fierce infatuation with stoops has turned to ambivalence. Faster than summer turns to fall.
Let me leave you with a picture of beautiful dogs sitting on a stoop.