Owl Perched On A Tree

Harlem is one of New York’s most charming neighborhoods. Handsome brownstone blocks collide with quintessentially old New York tenements. Coffee shops, which could easily fit in 1960’s Greenwich Village, sit next to bodegas. Hills dominate the landscape, illustrating the diverse terrain of Manhattan.

This is a neighborhood I call, home. I have friends who ended up in this slice of the New York pizza pie. Some may regard it as the Arctic of Manhattan, since it’s rather high up the island. However, it retains the magic of old New York, which has not been lost in gentrification.

On a late autumn evening, I encountered a first world problem. “Shit, I left my phone charger at my friend’s apartment,” I declared. I called up (my friend) Anna and made the trek to the west 140’s. As I walked around Uptown’s most quintessential sidewalks, every sight delighted me. The majesty of hilly St Nicholas Park, impressive architectural style and even the roar of the subway made an enchanting memory.

When I reached Anna’s apartment, she invited me to hang out in her fire escape. Even though, I played it cool, I was secretly frightened about the idea of sitting so high up with a gapping hole in close proximity. Instead of just grabbing my charger and bolting, I made my way through a narrow window and into the fire escape.

I sat next to Anna. The jitters persisted as she poured me a glass of wine. As I took a quick gulp of the Pinot Gris, the fear slowly diminished. The sirens, ambulances and funky music (she played) produced an exotic calming sound. I looked across our sprawling neighborhood. Like any proper New Yorker, I tried to find that quintessential Manhattan skyline view.  The one with the Empire State Building and GE building glowing against modest low rise buildings.

It was nowhere to be found. Instead, the towering projects glowed with yellow lights. Further east was the FDR (highway) with its free flowing traffic. While directly below were the perfectly manicured gardens of brownstone buildings. We talked and drank more wine, but little did I know my very first world problem would birth a New York moment.

I conquered a fear of heights. Also, I took a moment to find the beauty in a non-traditional birds eye view of the city.  As, I crawled out of the fire escape through the narrow window, I thought to myself, “wow what a beauty and unexpected memory.”

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