There’s a soaking rain that makes it feel much later than 8:30; I want to get into bed and play possum for a month or three. But life, it keeps getting in the way of such a solitary egotistical pursuit. In the morning I have yet another dentist appointment for implants. Now that the rods are in I feel like my own heavy metal band.
I would have mortgaged my soul to do this. Fortunately I didn’t have to. It’s tedious, has taken forever, and has taught me to understand “it is what it is.” Patience, man. It’s all about patience.
Usually I walk at night; I have turned into a nocturnal creature because the streets are less crowded, and the chain stores don’t glare out at me. It seems more like the old Upper West Side, the one that had grit and that I fell in love with. Panic in Needle Park was filmed in a park on West 72nd where the new subway stop is. It is beautiful, inviting and I have never sat there.
Needle Park was danger; it was junkies and bag people with much mental baggage.
A doctor’s widow lived on the first floor of Lucia’s building. Somehow crack dealers moved in and took over her life. When Lucia was robbed, the police told her they knew who was responsible but couldn’t prove it.
There were small kids in the buiding; Little Luce would be born several years later. She turned 15 yesterday and wouldn’t really be shocked to know that there once were crack syringes all over the first floor and the stoop we always sit on and watch the world go by.
The people in the building arranged for the widow to be moved to an adult facility, and were able to have the crack dealers evicted. The woman was killed by a bus a week after moving.
Lucia’s building is my favorite city apartment building. There’s a core group who have been there forever. Gods Love; we deliver, a large AIDS organization, began in the building. I have had friends in that building since I first moved to Manhattan. It is my history too.
My building is old also. But it’s fancier. Its story is similiar; most buildings on the Upper West Side have faded glory stories and rejuvenation ones too. My building had a rent strike before it became a coop; now it’s a big deal. Lucia’s building remained a rental because the owners wanted to keep the stores under it.
Though I love my acidic memories I am very grateful for the present. While I don’t sit on the benches in the new park, I walk down to the river to sit and walk even late at night during spring and summer. In late fall and winter I only go down during the day. Yes I would rather be safe.
I have talked often of how I’m falling out of love with Manhattan, and I am. But I will always desire it.