I grew up in Harlem, and despite the noise and the grit and living through the bad ol' days and trying to get to the burbs, once I had a kid I began to miss it. I miss the energy and the life, and the character, which gentrification hasn't quite killed. Harlem is *decidedly* different now than it was when I was a girl. Weeks would go by without anybody uptown seeing anybody in any other flavor other than brown, but these days come evening all sorts of people are out walking their (rather large--it's still Harlem afterall) dogs. White people even venture into Marcus Garvey Park at night, which is something we *never* did as kids.
My whole life is still downtown, even though I've been out here on The Rock for 12 years this summer. My parents are still there. And I always end up working downtown because Ma has always been my backup. And the trek out here to the Rock everyday can be draining, especially in the warmer months because Traffic out here can be unbelievable. So every once in a while I ask the Sun if he would mind moving back downtown, and he always says NO. He wants to live here. So we stay.
Yesterday, he tested for his yellow belt with black stripe. He's learning Shindu Ryo. Sensei's brother brought him a yellow belt to borrow, and other than awarding him his belt last and ribbing him about forgetting his uniform, both Sensei and his brother were very understanding and gentle with my little man, for which a mom is most appreciative. After they got the belts, the kids all wanted ice cream, so us parents walked the kids over to Lickity Split to indulge them. Then the other two boys in the class wanted to go to A's house (I wouldn't be surprised if A grows up to be an actor or model--that is one amazingly beautiful 10 year old) and the Sun (who's younger than they are) wanted to go too. So he spent most of the afternoon playing with them until about 5P, when I went to get him. Sis and the Flowerchild were going to take me to Target, and plus the Moon had called for him. But Sun went directly to the house of two other little boys, where he refused to leave without a fight, so we left him there with his buddy the Moon, the borough president's kid and the TwoBrothers. I heard they played till dark, climbed fences to peek into G's yard (who is the lone girl in the karate class) and hit balls out of the yard. They had a pizza dinner, and then the Sun went to spend the night at the Moon's house.
He's got a great life; one of the few places left in this city still safe enough to play ball in the street, a Little League that's not too competitive, and where older boys will look out for a younger boy who still cries when he falls.
Pretty cool. I guess I'll stay here till he grows up.