Those who have, those who struggle, those who wanna be…or “Girl, you carry your Mac in a plastic bag?”

Back in the 80’s my neighbourhood was filled with creative and artsy peeps who flowed through the avenues during the day and had trendy thought-provoking convos at night in the bars. I gravitated towards the writers and artists who bragged about their latest accomplishments or latest failures as back then bragging had no qualifications.

But, in this present day, this ‘hood’ is filled with those who have, because those who struggled to have, were pushed out with rent increases, aimed at making room for the new, at the expense of the old. 

The  wanna be’s arrived on the scene and venture through the avenues, stopping at restaurants then exiting quietly or nosily as some of you do on the weekend nights when you’ve had one too many and I have to listen to your nonsensical crap as I try to fall asleep hoping to dream of puffy rabbits and green turtles.

Those who have are busy tearing down the old in their apartments or brownstones for updated, functional appliances and wares to create a home one can truly relax in. Those who have also have the required child under two and nannies galore.  Those who have work at high end jobs or accumulated wealth or trust fund babies or related to the Hiltons or the orange turd that sits with his hemorrhoids in the house that is now truly white. 

Those who have, can be seen sitting in a designer coffee shop situated on every corner in PSlope with their macbooks proudly displayed on the countertops. One of those macbooks belonging to those who have was the impetus for this blog post. I witness one of those who have, carrying their macbook in a see through plastic bag while standing on 5thave waiting for an Uber!

I am now the recent proud owner of a macbook air in rose. It took allot to purchase this item, financially, emotionally, whatever else comes with baggage stored deep in the heart. 

My Mackbook Air is proudly called, “Rose Gold” and she’s encased in a heavy plastic shell with a keypad overlay and is rarely transported in a heavy black padded case.

My point to all this jibbering or jabbering, as the mac autocorrect is insisting I use? 

Those who have don’t have to care for what they have for what they have will always be replaceable.

Those who ‘wanna be’ will always be wanna be’s living in a fantasy that is obtainable only through lunch specials and splitting entrée’s at the so called ‘elite’ restaurants in the ‘hood’.

Those who struggle will always struggle and will gain experience, empathy and survival instincts through those struggles. Not to paint all those who struggle as martyrs in an unfair world because we know those who struggle can be so full of shit at times and such big narcissists but for those who struggle and truly come from good will always be on top for they cherish what was so hard to acquire and appreciate what it took to get it. 

Peace out.

****I dedicate this post to my niece and little brother who work so hard for what they have.

Homegoing or saying Goodbye to a neighbour…

Recently, I wrote on my FB page about the passing of a neighbour :

“Another neighbour passed on…three deaths this month on the block, in ‘MY ‘HOOD’ . She arrived on this block in 1958 , way before it became ‘other people’s neighbourhood’. My familia arrived here in 1962. We are losing the old timers on my block, the TRUE neigbours who are replaced by neighbours I don’t care to know or have. Mi alma is overloaded right now. The passage of time is not always nice. Rest in blissful peace Mrs *******!”

My FB peeps offered condolences and encouragements to keep on being keeping on. One in particular, a dear friend and my priest, reminded me, I was not to forget at one time, we were, the newbies on the block and to give the new neighbours a chance.

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At first I was frustrated, reading his response for I know of conflicts my neighbours of colour endured from the Italians and Irish groups who were here before them. These neighbours would spit on the sidewalk as they walked past. This was the year of 1958. By the time I was born in 1964, those same neighbours who once spat, cooed at me as their teenaged daughter pushed my carriage up and down the block. Go figure. Integration is integration, first met with fear then dissolved into acceptance, once we see the other as not being as bad as we thought. The daughter and her family are still on this block and I adore them dearly.

“The neighbours I don’t care to know”, are the young couples, the hip singles, the expats from Manhattan, looking to score a bigger apartment with amenities and a doorman. Who cares if the rent is twice what you paid for the tiny studio apartment in your former four flight walkup? These invaders are on the scene, invading my ‘hood’.

And that’s it.

They arrive and spread, dissimilating the makeup of the neighbourhood, forgoing ‘Good Mornings’, blocking the sidewalks while conversing with other arrivals about pilates, the new restaurant, drinks, backstabbing and eloquent gossiping (talking trash in my language).

I’m ranting.

And…

I meant to write about my neighbour.

The one whose Home Going was attended by most of the neighbours on the block who laughed, cried and rejoiced in the stories of her life, her giving and feeding of everyone. It was a beautiful service which lingered on after the night was over and brought smiles to us neighbours, as we reminisced about it the days after. I will miss seeing her outside, sweeping and cleaning up or stopping by her place to talk awhile after finishing my piano lessons with her brother who lives upstairs.

I guess it’s going to take a while to get to that place where I “see the other as not as bad as we thought”.

I’m not there yet.images.jpg

And, may move before it comes.

Mrs ******* may not have been thrilled about the changes of the guard (people) in the ‘hood’. We joked and talked about it.

But…

She always said “Good Morning” to everyone regardless if she received a response or not.

I guess that is a place to start.

Just say ‘Good Morning’.

 

***images from the World Wide Web***

 

 

 

 

Who are the people in my neighbourhood…

I was born, raised, moved away, moved back, moved away again but returned to live in my neigbourhood of the most gentrified kind.

The ‘hood’, as it was once known during my childhood, had an unsavory cultural characteristics of the almost ghetto kind, not yet there, but oh so close and that classification depended on whose perspective you cared to seriously consider-those who lived there and those who took one look and passed through quickly. But to me and my posse of friends the ‘hood’ was our world!

Winters were cold, idle and desolate while summers were muggy, alive and sizzling, riding the waves of the so-called “pulse of the city”.  At night, I slept the sleep of dreams on my twin mattress because during the summer days, the ‘hood’ was an interactive playground and as a young participant, I was constantly moving and socializing!

The rents were cheap and the living was easy if you were part of the ‘hood’.  Being part of the hood was to know the gangbangers by their real names, not their tags. Being part of the hood was having an extended family of misfit friends who played double-dutch, stoopball and red rover on demand. Being part of the hood was hanging on the stoops, sitting at the windowsills, yelling from rooftops and letting the water from an open hydrant stream into an open car window after you promised the driver you’d hold the water down as he drove through.

The ‘hood’ was comforting and predictable. Everyone knew everyone or some dark secret about him or her or them. We knew who would be on the rooftop at night trying to throw bottles on the heads of the women who flirted with her man on that day. Only later did we find out the woman on top of the roof throwing the bottles was not a woman.

We knew who to grub cigarettes off during Fourth of July in order to light our firecrackers-he was usually too stoned to noticed when we sneaked off with his pack. We loved Uncle Willie, a retired gentle person who lived in the block’s only wood frame home. He got the city to provide breakfast and lunches for the ‘hood’ kids and permits for street closings so we could run around like maniacs. We loved our neighbours who took an interest in us kids and in particular one couple who treated us to an excursion to Long Island for trick o’treating. We returned home with mounds of candy to last for a month.

Who would want to live here back in the days of: gang warfare, Molotov cocktails with police riots, drugs, racial mayhem, broken streetlights, abandon buildings, dilapidated playgrounds, Congo players drumming well past midnight and fake candy stores with bulletproof glass around the counter that sold weed. Not the garden ‘weed be gone’. Although you can have a garden of weed but I am not writing about the pest control kind of weed although weed can control some pests while unleashing others.

The more you put in, the more you got out. My friends were many and enemies did not exist. Familiarity can often bring contempt but the familiarity with my neighbours brought me protection. I was part of the ‘hood’,  my family was not.  Mom paid the bills, so when she said we had to move, we didn’t sell the house but moved to a new neighbourhood in Queens.

Almost thirty plus years have passed since my childhood days of living in the ‘hood’.  The ‘hood’ resides in the past, referred to nostalgically at times glorified by the few originals left who are lucky to be in rent-controlled housing.

The neighbourhood formerly known as the ‘hood’ is now, of the most unfavourable kind, depending on whose viewpoint you hear-those who pass through shopping at numerous upscale shops and those overwhelmed by the flood of crying babies and dogs. The ‘hood’ has moved on up, with most of the old occupants displaced and the abandon buildings turned into upscale luxury housing, some with swimming pools and most with concierge service. Restaurants of every fare occupy every square inch of a block. Thai, American, Classic diner fare, Vegan, Japanese Fusion, Campo de Flora Pizza made with real olive oil and Chinese fast food with brown rice, organic peas and carrots. Order take out or saunter up to the outdoor seating and people watch, the new people in the neighbourhood.

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