The Lay of the Land

closetI have a tree outside my window, which is very important.  Some kind of creeping vine is growing around it, hot pink flowers braided into mature scoop-shaped tree leaves.  Behind the tree is a fence with barbed wire on top of it.  The barbed wire is protecting us from a carpet store, or protecting the carpet store from us– who can say?

There is no air conditioning in my room, a fact that initially terrified me.  My first night here, though, I managed to sleep fine.  Open window.  Trees.  Fan.

I have a twin bed with blue sheets, a nightstand with two drawers, and a little built-in wardrobe that I haven’t hung anything in yet.  The trim is part silver, and part the blue of painter’s tape, in fact I had to touch it to make sure it was not painter’s tape.  After two years of kicking around the mansion, I realized the blue in the entry was not painted but unremoved tape.

There is a dumpster outside my old place of residence.  Someone is throwing out my uneaten ice cream, my old computer, pictures, broken cardboard boxes, and one mock hot air balloon with Barbies riding in it.  I was this close to saving the Barbies.

There are two avenues to walk, Flatbush and Bedford.  The bus on Bedford goes north to Bed-Stuy, a place I first learned about from Billy Joel’s lyrics about self-destructive behavior.  Flatbush Ave has more commerce, including the gourmet grocery and the one coffeehouse where a woman like me can get coffee and sit forever with her laptop between other people sitting forever with their laptops.  Both avenues have laundromats, African and Indian restaurants, wig stores, bodegas.  I like Ethiopian food, but none of this is that.  I need more time to google the food words and learn what’s vegetarian and what my picky self might like.

My block is townhouses.  On our side of the street, pre-war ones.  On the other, they are post-war, and brick instead of brownstone.  Walking down our block, people are watering their cascades of petunias and saying hello to their neighbors.  One woman walking with a child looked back at me nervously.  At the far end of the block, there is a big brown brick building where some young guys were yelling at each other loud and harsh at 2 pm.  But everyone else seems mellow and some people are even friendly.

Ninety-five percent of the buildings are well-kept, and 95% of the people about are black.  Most of their accents are American, but some sound Caribbean.  Being the only white girl reminds me of being where I taught, and I was happy there.

When I came home from Indian lunch– food nothing special, service beautifully polite– there was a cat in the hallway.  Landlady had said cats stayed outside.  Long-haired tortoiseshell.  Cat purred and purred and let me pet her forever.  “She’s hungry, that’s why she’s doing that,” landlady said. I disagreed.

I haven’t been on the subway.  I have only been into The City because my cabby accidentally got on the Williamsburg Bridge.  He turned off the ticker.  “Uh,” I said.  My ride took too long, and he charged me $40 (completely reasonable), and we parted friends.

Last night I walked over to the part of Brooklyn I know best, into the bar where I know there is popcorn.  Twenty-four hours after being celebrated out of Kansas City, I was celebrated into Brooklyn with nice wine and a beautiful plate of vegetables so delicious that I, yes reader, I, ate them all.

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