Tuesday, Oct/23/2012 1:07pm
I don’t know whether to feel nostalgic or curious, now walking around what I used to know as “the other side of the Park.” It was beautiful and exotic; almost as unattainable as the Fifth avenue architecture and Madison avenue shops and restaurants, but with a certain mysterious “otherness.” It was not a necessary part of my route from southeast Queens where I grew up to the upper east side where I went to high school, and as a silly, curious child, I was fascinated by that which required exploration. I used to make myself late for class by wandering across the park. The more I explored it, the stronger became my resolution to one day live on the upper west side.
Well, now I do live here. I have been here almost two weeks and will be here maybe two weeks more. This would not be nearly enough time to chew, swallow, and digest such a multifaceted neighborhood had I not given myself a head start in high school. Of course, at the time, I only saw one face, and that, through the eyes of a child. I accepted its warmth and glamour without questioning what made it so warm and glamorous. I marveled at the painted face that is Central Park West. I rarely wondered why Columbus Avenue was not as pretty. I accepted that Julliard, Lincoln Center, Laguardia High, and Martin Luther King High all occupied the same street corner without considering the socioeconomic contradiction this implied.
I never, as a teenager, noticed how many distressed and homeless people there are in the general vicinity of 96th and Broadway. I see them now that I am an adult and now that I am one of them, living in distress in one of the more glamorous parts of Manhattan. Now I see clearly how the cost of living far exceeds the means for living for many people here. I’m told often of people getting an “awesome deal” on their apartment/studio/room on the upper west side. I, myself, live in a homeless shelter, where I pay nothing. The nearest grocery store is the Westside Market. I can’t afford to shop there.
I realize now that I don’t know and have never known the upper west side. I’ve been blinded by it more than once, but I’ve never known it.
Nor will I, most likely. I’m leaving soon.
3) What fascninates you?