As I walked down the street with laundry over the shoulder and coffee in hand, a group of men shouted at me “You live in Harlem Boo-Boo.”
I still pinch myself. Am I really here?
Four years ago living in Knoxville, heck ONE year ago, studying in Bloomington, I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be living here.
But now that I do, I’m sure glad I’m here.
Yes. I’m a 22-year-old middle-class white girl living in Harlem. So I somewhat stick out like a sore thumb. But living in Harlem has given me some amazing opportunities. I’m not the only one either. I have 3 roommates, all entry-level up-and-comers. I have dancers in my building, actors in my building, students in my building. We’ve all moved to this rejuvenated area to live and survive.
For me, living in Harlem is the launching platform for the way I live the rest of my life here in the city. I’m frugal. I’m thrifty. I don’t, “make it rain”. I find the unique opportunities. I work hard but I play even harder and my neighbors here in Harlem are my best examples of the work/hard play hard mentality.
It is a community here. There is George and Thomas. There are the men who sell CDs. The locksmith. The paperboy. There are the kids in uniform and the moms that chase after them.
I go to bed to the sounds of cabs rushing by, couples in a screaming match, and the kids grabbing some late night snacks at McDonalds. I wake up to the sounds of church music and street football games. The smells of soul food and laundry are carried in the wind and make an unusually wonderful combination.
Harlem is such a culturally rich and historic little area. I live only a few blocks from the Apollo. I live on Malcom X Boulevard. We have Jamaican restaurants, soul food, and kosher delis.
Tour groups come through Harlem all the time. Lots of “I heart New York” t-shirts and cameras. Each time I see a group I want to say “Hey! Hey guys! I live here!! Isn’t that cool? Don’t you want to live here too??” Because I know they do. They SO do.
While my parents still freak out. I try to comfort them the best I can. Harlem has allowed me the opportunity to live and thrive in the great New York City. I can support myself here. It has been quite the change but an amazing change at that.
So yes gentlemen. This boo-boo lives in Harlem. Damn straight.