I work in Riverdale, the part of the Bronx with mansions and luxury apartments. On the bus I pass neighborhoods and think, “I wonder what it looks like over there?”
After work I walked a different way to the bus stop through private streets with old mansions and got lost. So I went on an adventure. The sky was blue with cumulus clouds though it was swampy. I got sweaty walking.
After walking in circles, I came to a familiar avenue, so I felt comfortable, though the area was strange. There were swank luxury apartments with pools and terraces. I figured where west was and walked as far west as I could because I wanted to see what was down by the river. The streets were quiet, wide and pristine. The sun glowed on the Whitehall, which actually is a stark white building. I see it from the parkway, but from this vantage point, it was in another world, facing other privileged dwellings. From there I walked on the southwest edge of Riverdale which eventually curved east. There were woods then a school with a big soccer field. Kids wearing orange uniforms were in there practicing. Teenagers were in a park hanging out on the swings. They looked like the cool kids. I thought of Archie comic books, because the town of Riverdale where they lived is based on here.
My neighborhood is desirable by Manhattan standards, but it’s urban compared to this and in a different sphere. Since this was a different world when I got home I had a new perspective of my neighborhood.
I felt like a traveler from somewhere else. My neighborhood was quaint and vibrant. I appreciated the different types of people, the prewar buildings, tenements, corner stores and congested streets. The light seemed to shine differently on my own avenue even. The buildings are neatly lined on the street. It’s a clean look. In my lobby I had a new appreciation for the photographs on the wall of this area from the early 1900s. When I put my key in the grey door, I felt like somebody subleasing from another country. Inside, I was a guest having a novel experience. My building is pre-war so though my apartment isn’t big it has character. I have a dressing area on view from the living room with a fake tiffany lamp and a spotted pig mirror. I have textured walls and a view of the woods. I felt like I was experiencing life maybe as an artist in a European apartment on a colorful street. Sometimes I feel like I could live here forever. It’s quiet on the street now, because the children are back in school. Today I’d rather live here than in one of those sprawling Riverdale apartments.