She wanted to leave when she was 40 in 91 but her father died suddenly and her mother was needy.
Her office on Jerome Avenue in The Bron_ had graffiti all over the windows No matter how often it was taken off it would be back the ne_t day. The strange thing was she found The Bron_ a relief from Manhattan. She knew chop shops were all over Jerome, and she was never more than a few minutes from crack and drive by shootings, but her office was a DMZ. When she would walk the streets, men would come out of the buildings “Ms. Savage, that’s Ms. Savage. She cool.”
Generally she hated that type of attention. The roar of the construction worker, whistle of the Con Ed worker, but there was something almost innocent, something refreshing, in these boys.
She trusted them to keep her out of death’s door. She wouldn’t trust them for anything else and they knew it. Though she smiled and laughed more easily than the other white women she worked with, there was a certain coolness about her. A sort of “don’t fuck with me, mother fuckers,” resonated from her cream turned gold in summer skin
Though she lived in what was then the richest zip code in the city, probably the country, she would count the Olde English malt liquor bottles strewn on the sidewalks as she practically tripped over homeless people sleeping and would make her e-cuses.
That spring or summer a subway motorman went postal and killed a number of people Service on the East Side IRT was disrupted for months. The normal 20 minute ride took two hours.
She was the last legal tenant on her floor. On one side of her apartment the new landlord put $10 ho’s; on he other side small time drug dealers. She had five floods the landlords refused to do anything about and soon she had cockroaches coming from the ceiling. It was vile. It was gross. Call the city to complain and give her address, yeah really. She would hear ten minutes of laughter before they hung up. For years the city had ignored the lack of heat complaints also.
She could take not having heat. But cockroaches, mice and rats that ran from the fireplace once the new 63rd Street subway had opened, that was intolerable.
She could have waited to be bought out but she would probably be dead from something. She was only 40; the best dressed white woman at the Jerome Ave Social Security office where all the other Jews her age acted as if they were going to be eligible for SSI tomorrow.
Her laughter was infectious but half the time she felt it was the hysterical laughter of the soon to be legally insane. When her best friend would come to the office to meet her for lunch at the Paradise Coffee Shop, beloved by generations of native Bron_ites, all work would stop. All the guys wanted to meet her. Only later would they notice the wedding ring.
Claimants would ask for the “pretty well dressed” white girl. “Well dressed” she laughingly told her friends meant that if she were to wear plaid, and she wouldn’t, it would clash as a fashion statement. She was always shocked at how often “well dressed” was applied to her. She was just another city girl.
She moved to Riverdale, The Bron and the high point of her day was walking down the hills of Riverdale, over The Major Deegan and up the hills of Kingsbridge Heights and around The Reservoir that stunk of mold most days.
She wore silk short suits and would put on her pantyhose once she got to the office no later than 7:30 AM so she could do “undertime” or OT in the morning. Not because she wanted the money but otherwise the work would just pile up. She hated that job and didn’t yet realize if she was to remain in New York it was Manhattan she needed.
When the crack/drive by shooting years were safely over she moved back but never loved it as much as she had before the days of the $10 ho’s.
As others dreamed of the city she dreamed of escaping. It wasn’t Final Payments She didn’t live with her mother. Her mother didn’t stop her from doing things, but she couldn’t leave as long as her mother was living on her own. And her mother had no intention of ever giving into age and fraility.
Her mother died a month after 9/11 and it was so hard. She felt wounded and alone. First she couldn’t leave because of estate and patriotism reasons. Then there was another reason and still another.
Si_ years after her mother’s death she began to get her apartment ready. The closing is scheduled for midway between 9/11 and her mother’s death.
Every New Yorker has their 9/11 story. Hers isn’t that fascinating. She didn’t know anybody who died in the attacks but many who lived.
On Wednesday or Thursday she will walk down to the old Trade Center, walk further to the water ta_i to the new Ikea in Red Hook, Brooklyn and come back at night to look at the twin beacons of lights emenating from the site. Her best friend, daughter and some other friends went yesterday but she couldn’t go. They mainly talked about the ride and the food in the after event phone call. The beacons of light will always be meaningful
It’s been seven years. A missing person can be declared dead after seven years. Bankruptcies e_punged, debts cleared. Crimes e_cept for murder and rape are usually no longer prosecuted. Seven is the age of reason. Seven means so many many things, but most of all it means letting go.
She’s made up with the friends she fought with seven years ago, and hasn’t spoken to the false friends.
Her new future awaits not where she thought it would seventeen or even three years ago in Santa Monica or San Diego but in South Carolina.
She’s tired. Oh so tired. It took forever to sell her apartment and sometimes she think hers was the last one bedroom in Manhattan to sell for a half decent price. The doormen saga–she doesn’t want to go there.
She’s tired of people with their hands out. She’s tired of living in a city that’s so pricey and so crowded and people are defeated as living here is hard. Her neighbors are jealous–but there’s no longer a market for their apartments
She thought she suffered from a terminal case of bad timing but it turned out to be pretty darn good.