She stay hanging out by the bus stop. I see her almost every morning usually hanging with Lazy Larry. He’s our neighborhood drunk (who is probably slightly mentally challenged). They are a team. I don’t even know how it works. He usually sits in the bus shelter playing music and yelling at each bus that goes by. Ms. Sanchez, on the other hand, chills out behind the bus shelter still in the shade and always with a smile on her face. I don’t think she speaks English…and I know Larry doesn’t speak Spanish (except for the word ceveza). She can’t walk that good. That’s why she’s in that chair. But she sure does get around. You’ll see her all up and down Myrtle. Watch out! She’ll run you over with that chair if you’re not paying attention. She’ll keep that smile on her face too while you nurse a sore toe. It’s people like Lazy Larry and Ms. Sanchez that make me love my neighborhood.
All it takes is a ball and a wall. It’s simple. Insert one small blue round ball (preferably a racquetball ball). Add a wall and some concrete. Sprinkle in a few competitive characters and a small crowd on the sideline talking a little trash. Glove or tape hands. And play like your life depends on it. That’s hand ball in NYC. I really don’t know the history of the sport…but I call it the poor man’s tennis. It’s like the poor kid’s baseball….stick ball. You take something that typically requires you to buy equipment and strip it down to the bare minimum. Who needs a racket or bat when you have your hands or a simple broom stick. No need for fancy balls either a cheep tennis ball or small rubber ball will do the trick. And forget about playing fields of grass…these games are played in the street. All you need are some makeshift boundaries and the will to win.
It’s Sunday afternoon and I have some time to kill before my shoot later…might as well take in a handball game.
I wonder what she is thinking. She has a tired and worried look on her face. Maybe she is thinking about home (….wherever that is). Maybe she just had a bad day. Or maybe it’s nothing…just a second of life that could be misunderstood. I shouldn’t read into that solemn look on her face. That stare off into nothingness shouldn’t alarm me or cause me to race through options about her thoughts. It’s just a moment of time…a second frozen forever.
It’s Friday night and I’m in the Village celebrating a friend’s born day. We laugh and drink over fancy Mexican food as the streets come alive. It’s a beautiful night. Perfect temperature….a cool breeze washes away the late summer warmth. If only NY could be this temperature year round! On my walk back to the underground for the journey to BK I spot Stonewall and I had to snap a pic. This is ground zero for the gay and lesbian movement. It’s where the riots took place in 1969 as people fought for their rights. It’s 2014 now and the world is definitely a different place…but sadly in some places time has remained frozen. I’m glad I don’t live in one of those cities or states. I accept all cultures, religions, sexual orientation, etc. For me it’s all about love and that’s it!
In her last days she dreamed of running along the great wall with her daughter playing with orange balloons. Orange balloons. Perhaps it was a moment of innocence…of peace…of better days. She lay dying of cancer. Only weeks or days remained. Her daughter spoke fondly of the memories they had together along with her sons. They cried. They laughed. With faith, they never questioned why. Sam talked about how her mother always wanted to comfort her. How she never wanted her daughter to feel pain or loss. I remember they days when she showed me the same kindness and love. She always had my back as a coworker. She was my rock when I was young leader. And as everyone remembers her I realize she was special to everyone she came in contact with. It was just her. There are those people who are special. You don’t know why…but they they just are. I’m sad. I don’t have the right words to console her daughter…my friend Star. Star is in her own battle now with an end foreseeable that will leave me in the same place. I watched her slowly walk in aided by a cane. She looked so beautiful and elegant in her infinite sadness. I hugged her and didn’t want to let go. It was one of those hugs that you truly feel inside. It’s when you have a lifetime of conversations in nonverbal communication. Touch, especially in moments like this is truly important. Star spoke about her mom in a soft voice with carefully chosen words. She shared stories of love and struggle, times of joy and pain and the importance of family. I held back my tears as every word brought back my own memories. I can’t handle death. I really can’t. I’ve said it before. I don’t like uncertainty. I don’t like not knowing what’s next.
She dreamed of playing with orange balloons with her daughter by her side…..
When the hell did this happen? Where did summer go? The leaves can’t be falling already! It’s still August. It’s kinda nice outside right now. I need more sun. I need for this summer to be longer. Hell…I need for this summer…to actually be summer! I blinked and missed it. Maybe it was all of the traveling…but I haven’t really traveled that much this summer. I need for this to stop. Someone needs to tell these damn trees to just chill for a minute…this is a little too soon. Maybe there is some type of leaf virus killing trees in Fort Greene Park…or maybe it’s just the end of summer.
I’m down in the Lower East Side running an errand. Despite all of the change, there are some spots that are still grimy. Before the million dollar condos and what not heroine attics and squatters reigned supreme. It’s different today….but sometimes all the same.