Exactly a month ago Danusia and I moved from Williamsburg Brooklyn to Hamilton Heights, Manhattan. The neighborhoods are worlds apart, but they each have their own interesting character. That’s what makes New York such a great place to live, you cross a street and you’re in a different world. Cross a river and you’re in a different state of mind altogether.
The pace here is a lot calmer, and Danusia remarked after a long bus ride through most of the Bronx last week (she was on the way to a job) that the people on the bus seemed a lot less angry than the people in Brooklyn. I still see people yelling into their cellphones and I heard a woman tell her 5 year old sitting in her car “I will fuck you up” yesterday. But in all, I don’t feel as tense up here.
There are lots of hills, the day we started our move (it took three days, more if you count having to go back to deal with that mattress) we were in my friend Michael’s station wagon and found ourselves at the top of a very steep hill somewhere on Amsterdam Avenue. It went way down for six or seven blocks, then rose back up for six or seven blocks, and it was probably a hundred-foot drop to the lowest point.
When I stand on the corner of my street and Broadway and look west I can see the Hudson at the bottom of the hill, and New Jersey beyond. From my block it’s a short walk to see either the Bronx or New Jersey. It’s a lot more interesting than the projects and industrial parks of Williamsburg.
There are also a ton of churches, there’s the Anglican Methodist Church of Africa on 153rd and Amsterdam, (all races welcome!), and there is the Luke A.M.E. Church right on the corner two doors down from us. There is also a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall on Broadway, and dozens of others. Williamsburg has a bar on every corner and Hamilton Heights has a church on every corner. There is also the Prince Albert Masonic Temple on 155th and St. Nicholas, not a church, but close. I had to explain to Danusia what a Freemason was, and that I wasn’t aware that there were black Freemasons. I learn something new everyday. I was taking pictures this morning for this post, and my camera died when I was getting to the church part, so this pic of the Trinity Church cemetery around the corner will have to suffice.
I also got this picture of a little mysterious store on the corner of 152nd and Broadway; it’s a Mexican store with Mexican products. At first glance it looks like a dirty, dilapidated little place that I wouldn’t buy chewing gum from, but the other night I passed by and it was open. Out of curiosity, and the need for some mineral water, I went in. If they are Mexican, they will have Jarritos, a Mexican soda brand. Jarritos does make a mineral water, so I gave it a go. Inside there were racks of dried chilies and cans of Mexican goods, and of all things, a wooden bin filled with hand made cowboy boots. There was a kid in there, couldn’t have been more than 15, and he was in charge. He had the mineral water, but he didn’t have change, I had a twenty and my total was $5 for two bottles of water. I looked and I did have four singles.
“I’ll just take one,” I said. The kid took the $4 and handed me the bag of two bottles, so now I owe him a buck.
I’ve been so busy I missed posting something on Tuesday, so my apologies to anyone looking for it. My teacher Charles said the other night,
“Xavier has a blog, but if he misses a week people will forget about him.”
I don’t think so, but I can’t help but to keep writing. Besides fixing things, my day job, writing is what I do. And do come and visit Hamilton Heights if you need a little tranquility and a respite from a bar on every corner.
Love reading your blog (though I always agree with Charles.)