125th and Happy in Manhattan
Harlem has a bit of my heart!
I wavered on wanting to head up to Harlem my last day in New York. I jumped on the subway after popping in the Chelsea Market and doing some window shopping at Anthropologie and brownie sampling, turned buying, at The Fat Witch Bakery. I intended on heading just up to the West Side of Central Park and finding a diner or a bagel, but the MTA system had other plans for me, and good thing. Apparently I hopped on an express train so after Columbus Circle it just kept a’ goin’ and it spit me out right at 125th and Happy.
I cam right out and the first place I saw was a convenience store and I went in immediately and had a handful of doo-dads for the girls faster than I could grab a basket. SO FUN. I cam across a couple girls in there who were beyond helpful about the earrings in there versus the ones you could buy out on the street vendors’ tables. I never did end up buying any earrings this trip, even though so many caught my eye at so many places! Those plastic earrings or those big gold hoops, also those plastic or pearl oversize butterfly clips- they are EVERYWHERE, but I came home with none. Then I saw them at Target and Kohl’s here and it makes me think, maybe skip the “trend.”
Anyway… saw the Apollo Theater, and walked down 125th- I didn’t get lovey dovey vibes along there at the table vendors though. In fact, many people along there were quite angry at this white girl with a camera taking pictures and videos. There were a couple hostile persons and it made me a little combative and I stood up for my right to document as I was in public on the street, but there is a definite vibe in the air from the people who are from there who have dug in their heels against the gentrification that is rolling on right down to the corner Whole Foods and Starbucks with or without their approval. I respect and understand their view and how they might perceive me, but I came to Harlem to see Harlem and yes, document it from my lens not to view them as if they were performers for me, but I wanted to just BE and walk and taste it for myself. I have enough confidence and back bone to keep on keepin’ on and I hopped over one block and immediately felt more at ease, but just wanted to address the discomfort I felt because judgement can and does happen when you are in fact a “tourist” in the territory of 110th and up. I was told to put my camera away three times I caught wind of, and called a “white bit *&%” as many times.
There were happy and helpful friends along the way too, and more friendliness than not. I sat next to an adorable couple on the patio outside Jacob’s Restaurant and I had the best meal of my trip there I think, and very sweet conversation. I asked the gentleman next to me for directions on how best to get to the park and he said I was in luck because he knew exactly how because i he just took a job with the transit system there! Good for him… he said he almost moved to Colorado- I assured him he made the right choice in staying in New York. I know I am a native Coloradan, but NEW YORK, come on! If I were a New Yorker, I wouldn’t move0 haha! They, as a lot of other people I pass in traveling alone, were shocked I was taking a trip there for myself, and even more surprised I was a mama of two. I always walk away from those conversations with a little more pep in my step, like, hey, look at me, I’m out here- exploring, learning, experiencing, for my self, for my girls, just being me like I’ve always loved to do, and motherhood hasn’t dampened that part of me. I came across an older couple in line at the Whitney Museum and as we were waiting together the topic of who I was and I was there came up and the older woman said with surprise and admiration, “All by yourself?! WOW! I’ve never been anywhere by myself…” I felt accomplished and proud. I will say I get a little nervous leaving my babies at home every time, but when I come home, I am always so thankful and glad I was able to go.
After my belly was full I popped into an African imports store and picked up a couple souvenirs and decorative pieces (small) that now sit on my nightstand and dresser. I would have taken home a couple more things but my carry-on suitcase prohibited my purchasing! NEXT time! I had a cup of watermelon juice from a street seller and I hopped on the bus to head to the northern end of Central Park, another area I had never explored before.
Ahhhh Central Park, there are no bad corners. Right when I entered I was handed a map of the park and a City Parks employee said I looked like I was heading to the Jazz Festival. I am sorry, the what?! Why, YES, yes I am! I was able to catch just a tiny taste of Harlem and just a sliver of sounds from the Jazz Festival, but it filled my soul.
I always leave New York feeling energized, inspired and always, ALWAYS, wanting to know, see and FEEL more from this incredible city.
Wearing: Bambi halter top purchased from a Larimer Square boutique when I was 21, but here’s a cute Bambi tee! Floral skirt from H&M that I purchased I think in Spain on our honeymoon…but similar skirt here. And LOVE this skirt by Rochas. My bucket hat is from Madewell, found on sale in New York and available here.