Henri Silberman's Photo of New York- GLORIOUS!
I love New York. I love the lights, the sight of the bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, loudass people, endless possibilities for exploration on any night, the shopping, the food, the culture, and mostly, that I can bump into anyone and don’t have to say excuse me, because EVERYONE is rude. I fucking love New York.
William does not share the same sentiment. We have two completely different viewpoints on moving back to the city. Both of our viewpoints are tinged by the completely different lives we lead before knowing one another. His, full of fond memories and sad losses, and mine, enduring the white bread problems of suburbia.
The topic of us relocating to New York comes up frequently. His grandfather, who just turned 90, would love to have us around, I love the city, and William does miss his family very, very much. But there is this hesitation in him I just didn’t understand at all. I know William very well, but I couldn’t peg why he is so ambivalent about it. New York is his home! How could not want to go home? Even with me picking at the subject in the annoying way that I tend to do, he just can’t bring himself to give me answers.
The only thing I can determine is that he and New York have fallen out of love.
Let me explain.
William is a native of the Bronxdale neighborhood, next door to the housing projects of the same name. His Mother, Gloria, and two brother’s David and Marcel, along with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends, who might as well be blood related, are an incredible network of people who formed the wonderful memories of his childhood. Not all the times seem to have been good, but that is life for everyone. Having so much family around makes things easier.
When They Were Boys. From left to right, David, William, and Marcel.
Sadly, In 1996, William’s brother, David, was murdered. He was only 17. While at a party in Harlem one night, David made the “mistake” of dancing with a girl who supposedly belonged to someone else. Since some people can’t just accept that dancing is dancing, someone took his life, and shot him. The killer fled to Jamaica in an attempt to lay low after killing David. He was never brought to justice in New York Judicial system, but just like a tale from a movie, the street got him instead. He returned to New York when he thought it was safe, and was killed shortly after. No one knows for what reason, but my guess is, he has a lot of people who’s lives he ruined, and I’m sure a lot of people wanted him dead. What goes around, surely, comes around.
His family suffered through the worst heartbreak imaginable. It was that pain that prompted his mom to move him from NYC to Catonsville, MD later that year seeking a fresh start. Marcel, almost an adult by then, opted to stay behind with his grandparents.
William adjusted well to being in Baltimore, even with a short time of feeling like a fish out of water. He made new friends and played lots of basketball, and Gloria, a former NYPD dispatcher, fulfilled her dream of becoming a chef. To this day, I refer to him as the slowest New Yorker I’ve ever met. He likes the peace and quiet, is more inclined to spend a day in the country not doing much, than running around any city, and doesn’t get why I am enchanted with skyscrapers and city adventures. Some city is ok- all city not so much.
William and his mom, celebrating eachother's passions- cooking and basketball.
Though William doesn’t say it, I think that David’s death has broken the love he feels for New York. Yes he loves it, as it is his home, but that love that makes some New Yorkers say, “I’m a new yorker for life and I’m not leaving” is gone. His mother, who passed away when he was just 23, has meant that WIlliam is here in Maryland with no immediate family. I am his family. My family is his family, and the rest of his family is in New York. He could have gone back, but the love is gone. I don’t know what that is like. My shitty little town of Laurel, MD has never presented me with such pain. The worst Laurel has to offer is a vacant mall and an increasingly sketchy population.
I didn’t understand it until last night before bed when I thought of my own best friend, who passed away a few years ago. She is the most personal loss I’ve ever had, and surely the biggest tragedy I’ve ever experienced. She died on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she moved to live with me while we were in college. For years, I couldn’t even go back, or cross the stretch of road heading into Ocean City where she lost her life in a car accident.
The Eastern Shore isn’t my home, but I think the sentiment I had for it in regards to Jessica’s death may be the same as what William feels for New York. The more I think of that, the worse I feel for not understanding it sooner. I can’t say for sure if this is exactly what he is feeling, but I’m hoping he will share that with me after the reads this post- no worries, I have is permission to write about his life in this post, so I’m not blindsiding him!
Instead of pushing him to be more adventurous in moving us into a city he no longer wants to be in, I should be happy his home is here with me. Amazing what I come to learn when I stop talking.