I’ve lived here all my life, to be exact. I’ve lived away, but always come back. I lived in Minnesota, out in the boondocks halfway between Brainerd and Bemidji. My son was born in a town called Hackensack, population 208. I went there to help my husband escape his drug habit. It actually worked until we came back to New York.
I Lived in Dominican Republic too for a year, in a rich mansion in Santiago belonging to his parents surrounded by small hovels of poverty throughout the nation. I lived in that rich house for two months. His sister despised me but wanted a body suit given to me for Christmas by my stepmom. She offered me more and more money but I wouldn’t give it up. I didn’t even like it that much; it had sentimental value only.
When I couldn’t take the richness anymore we traveled the entire country, visited Puerto Plata and Rio San Juan where he was born. We went to his aunt’s farm and stayed there for half a year doing Yoga and eating fresh fruits everyday. A man down the road heard I liked oranges and brought me a bag of oranges bigger than me. Workers climbed coconut trees so I could drink fresh coconut water and eat the sweet meat. I never had anything so delicious.
When I worked September through June, I traveled for 14 years during July and August.
No matter where I’ve gone, I’ve always returned home to Washington Heights here in New York City.
I stand by my southern window watching the lights on the George Washington Bridge. They flicker red and green Christmas colors and even though I’m a mile away, I enjoy the sight from my 16th floor perch.
The city spouts spires like golden castles. I live and survive, worry perpetually about land mines. My mind is a seascape. I live in a dream of primordial instincts. Sounds from traffic from Fort George hill fill my ears. Once several years back the hill was dangerous. A man was raping a woman in a van and I was home sick. I called 911 but couldn’t remember the name of the hill and kept screaming, “Snake Hill,” since that was the name I’d always called Fort George Hill. It was named Snake Hill because of all the curves you can’t see around when you near the top of the steep incline. 911 reporters couldn’t understand where I was talking about even though I gave the other coordinates, the address at the top is Audubon and 193rd and bottom of hill meets Nagle and Dyckman Street. “Calm down,” they urged. In desperation I screamed out the window, “You son of a bitch, leave that woman alone. Everyone can hear what you’re doing.” He must’ve heard me and took off in his big white van. I didn’t see her get out. I wonder still if he left her alive. The cops arrive 12 minutes later. They finally understood where I meant. Back then no one parked on Snake hill or rarely because if you did you’d come back to find your car without tires or worse, no car. Now people search daily for a parking spot on the hill. A year ago kids held car races there. It is safe.
A siren breaks through the relative silence of traffic. There is no night in my city of dreams. Traffic is constant.
Was I born here for a reason? To cause me pain or is this a trick of mind?