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  1. The Bronx has Yankee Stadium, a world class Botanical Garden, and an award winning zoo. I live in the Bronx - and I hate it.

    I grew up in the borough of churches, Brooklyn, the county of Kings.

    I can’t forget Paul Newman’s eyes in Fort Apache the Bronx or Melanie Griffith’s baby woman lilt in Bonfire of the Vanities. Those movies painted for me the soul of the Bronx and convinced me I preferred my gritty NY, Brooklyn style.

    It’s not that Brooklyn was less violent, or had a lower drug fueled body count. I just loved the county of my birth.

    Not really. As a child, “Bed-Stuy do or die!” was "Mostly die!" The violence, drugs and burned out buildings made me want to leave as soon as I could. And I did.

    I left with Phil, my high school sweetheart, to a 5 flight walk up on E.110th St.  
    The Young Lords collected our rent and junkies paused mid-fix to let us pass by. 

    We were an interracial Romeo & Juliet, searching for our Camelot. When we said goodbye to Spanish Harlem, Brooklyn welcomed us back. For a time we lived rent free as sextons of an Ocean Ave. church, then moved to a 1 bedroom (in an elevator building!) on Linden Blvd. near Bedford Ave. When Flatbush began to feel too provincial, we found cosmopolitan cache in lower Manhattan. 

    It was a short walk to Soho, China Town, The Village and Little Italy, but even taxis didn't know the route to our new home off the Hudson. No neighborhood stores, banks or streetlights for Washington Market area pioneers, made moving to Independence Plaza an even more romantic adventure. 

    We settled down and had a son. 

    In the years that followed I was shocked to find myself in THE center of the universe, when Robert De Niro christened MY neighborhood - Tribeca. Now, we had stores; but just to buy coffee I had to pick my way through a gaggle of celebrities, like Naomi Campbell, John John Kennedy, Nathan Lane and that's just in August when no one is in NY.

    Phil and I made it through 9/11 but not our marital strife. 

    When divorce sent me packing back to Brooklyn I found a great one bedroom in a neglected brownstone. I was so depressed, the only time I laughed was when EVERY visitor and I do mean EVERYONE said, 
    "You should rent your walk-in closet. You could get 7 or 800 a month."
    "On Macon St. and Malcolm X?" (I laughed)

    I was alone for the first time in my life. No husband, no work, no health insurance. My only comfort was that the hood reminded me of simpler times: Red Light Green Light 1-2-3! and Double-Dutch with that girl who was always double handed.

    My life was in tatters. Emotionally adrift and so distracted, I didn't notice that the center of the universe followed me to Bed-Stuy. The lone white family on Macon St. should have been my 1st clue. Then, I missed a 2nd clue - The A train.

    Usually on the A train, after Borough Hall, my fellow travelers were all melanin gifted. One night at my stop, Utica Ave., I looked at the crowd on the train and left wondering, "Where are all those white people going? Somewhere for Scientology?"

    I finally got the message when the city repaved Nostrand Ave. and put benches at bus stops on Fulton St. I saw white people: walking at midnight, heads in i-phones - not even looking up! Blonds and redheads jogging in their little shorts and walking their little dogs; and that was just the men.

    House after house was sold and bought changing the complexion of my block. For a minute I considered buying the brownstone I lived in. The broker said it didn't matter I was unemployed, because payments wouldn't increase until much later that year.

    When the brown skin sister who wrote for the NY Post bought my building I thought, "I got this!" 

    Little did I know I'd dodged a sub-prime mortgage bullet only to get hit with a rent increase cannon ball. 

    When my lease was almost up, Sister Land Lady informed me I could stay another year at double the rent. Yes, double the rent! My random extra work on movies and TV, left me with a thousand dollar budget for shelter. 

    Because white kids, from I don't know where, were eager to pay 3 times my "reasonable rent", I had 3 months to leave. 

    "Mayor DeBlasio's Affordable Housing lottery is a joke." I tweeted daily. 
    All I wanted was a nice 1 bedroom for a thousand dollars a month.

    After 9 months of looking and a nervous breakdown, I bought a co-op in the South Bronx. Yes, I bought a co-op, because I didn't earn enough money for "affordable housing"; except the two times they told me I made too much???!!!
    Yes, the Affordable Housing lottery is a joke.

    The first week I moved to Soundview, there was a murder around the corner. After 2 years, I'm use to the helicopter noise and fleet of emergency vehicles investigating the monthly shootings.

    When I notice I've no friends near, nor shops I prefer, not even my bank close by; I feel petty AND sad that I bought an apartment in Fort Apache, The Bronx. Speaking of movies...

    Down the street on a lot just off Bruckner Blvd., York studios broke ground on a $100 million dollar studio for movie and TV production.

     No the Bronx isn't burning. 

    The heat I feel is the center of the universe breathing down my neck. 

    Rhonda Hansome (actress, director
    storyteller & stand up comic)
    Heard 2-5 PM Mondays on SiriusXM 
    Ch 121 with John Fugelsang.
    See Rhonda herethere and around.

  2. 7 comments:

    1. Oh boy. It shouldn't have to be so hard, but it is. Love your writing.

    2. Unknown said...

      WOW RHONDA...THIS IS WONDERFUL!! It moves, it's engaging and I want more.!!

    3. Joel NYC said...

      What a story...and it's all true. Sounds like the beginnings of a novel.
      Joel Spector

    4. RHC said...

      Thank you Joel for reading & responding!

    5. Unknown said...

      Your talent as a wordsmith is brilliant.
      Shine on Rhonda!

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