Friday, April 11, 2008

It Really is a Small World

This is my neighborhood library, designed by the famous beaux arts architects McKim, Mead & White. It's supposed to look like a renaissance Italian palazzo. (And by the way, if you want to read about a scandal, look no further than Stanford White. He was a pretty good artist, but man! A real creep. The mustache says it all.)

Anyway, I was thinking today that living in New York is the first time in my life that I've lived somewhere where everything is in walking distance from my house. I mean, not everything, but everything I need to survive. I grew up in the country, and always lived away from town. I would ride my bike to a nearby gas station sometimes to buy candy, but that doesn't count.

Here I can walk to buy my groceries, walk to the library, walk to church, walk to the drugstore, walk to a park--even walk to school, if I went to City College. I like the feeling of being part of a community, and it feels small, even though it is a huge city. I even run into people that I know. Tonight at Pathmark (I seem to be blogging about the grocery store a lot this week!) I bumped into a guy from church. (He's funny because he's always saying "Oh my heck!")

Not only do I love my neighborhood today, I'm very happy that it is showing signs of spring. When I stepped out the door this morning, the trees along the sidewalk had burst into white blossoms overnight. With their dark branches and white flower clusters silhouetted against the stone-gray buildings, you might think time stopped in the middle of a snow flurry. The scent is warm and heady.

But springtime in Harlem is noisy too, and I'm not just talking about birds (though there are a surprising amount). Cars come cruising down my street with their windows down and rap music blasting. Groups of people form on stoops and talk and laugh, the sounds drifting upward to my window. Kids play street games and jump on pogo sticks. Everyone wants to be outside when its warm, so the noise level is rising with the temperature. I don't really mind it though. You get used to it. And it's nice to feel part of such a vibrant, lively place.

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