Friday, August 14, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - While You Were Out

Today I went to pick up all of the keys for my new apartment. At 9am tomorrow, I'll be happily skipping around my new, renovated, larger, cheaper apartment a mere four blocks from my old one - a very positive, unintended consequence of the recession.

I was too excited sleep this morning, so I was up and out the door early. I missed my old neighborhood, even though I've only been gone two weeks. I wanted to take some time to walk around before meeting my new landlord.

When I hopped off the train and walked a few blocks, I was surprised to see how much has changed. More store fronts have closed up, and a few formerly vacant ones are now occupied. A 10-story condo building is going up a few doors down from my new digs. The 96th Street subway construction looks like it may actually be finished some time relatively soon. And two blocks away, I'm not just getting a Whole Foods (which has me smiling widely) but an entire retail complex called Columbus Square (get it?) that includes a Crumbs (gasp)! I may never have to leave my new little haven of hope.

I'm one of those folks who's always surprised that any place I've been changes while I'm away. The way it is in my mind at last sight, is the way it remains frozen, captured in time. Like my friend, Brandi, I should be walking around with a camera at every moment so that I can quickly snap images of our ever-changing world. Tomorrow everything could be different.

My experience today makes me realize why exhibits like Camilo Jose Vergara's beautiful tribute to Harlem are so powerful, poignant, and necessary. Just as we are always in a process of becoming, so are the communities where we live. Just as we want to tell our own stories, so do our cities.

The image above was taken by Ruby Washington/The New York Times.

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