Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nie Nie


Last week, I joined with people all over the world in launching balloons for Stephanie and Christian Nielson.  If you don't already know about what happened to this beautiful couple, click here.

To find out what you can do to help, visit Stephanie's sister's blog here, visit this site to see the list of amazing items being auctioned (all proceeds will be donated to the Nielson's recovery fund) or click on the "Nie Recovery" button on my sidebar.  

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Like the award


When my friend and I moved to Harlem in the winter of 2001, we quickly became local curiosities. The only white girls for miles, we were often approached by women, their protective hands reaching out to clasp our arms, and always with the same concerned question:

"Honey, are you lost?"

After climbing the five flights of stairs to our apartment, we enjoyed recounting our day's adventures:

"So I could tell some guys were walking behind me, and they were kind of snickering, and then I hear 'Yo, yo, this ain't no Sweet Valley High!'"

As I made my way up the hill to our apartment one glorious New York spring evening, I passed a man standing on the corner. He smiled as I passed, flipping a waist-length dreadlock over his shoulder.

"Yo!"

I turned around.

"Yo! You the new girl in the 'hood?"

"Yup, I'm the new girl."

"I'm Tyrone. What's your name, new girl?"

"Emmie."

"Emmy? Like the award?"

"Uh huh. Like the award."

A slow, sly grin.

"Well, Emmy, you'll always be a winna ta me!"

Grinning ear to ear, he bowed slightly, his gold chains swaying.

"Thanks, Tyrone!"

Ten minutes later, I was making dinner when someone knocked at our door. As I let in my roommate's friend, I introduced myself.

"Hi, I'm Emmie, I don't think we've met."

Pause.

"Wait - you're Emmie?"

"Uh huh, why?"

Laughing, she explained:

"I stopped at that little deli across the street right before I came here, and this guy with dreads just like, burst in and yelled 'I met her! I met the white girl!' And then someone said 'What's her name?' And he said 'Emmy! Like the award!'"

The next day, a Saturday, I was slowly making my way down the hill with my laundry when I heard a shout from the building ahead.

"Hey Emmy! Yo! Emmy!"

I looked up to see a man I'd never met leaning out of a window three stories up.

"Yo! You'll always be a winna, Emmy!"

Two guys across the street joined in:

"Yeah, Emmy! You're a winner! Yo! Emmy!"

"Thanks, guys!"

As I folded my clothes later that night to the strong beat of hip-hop from the apartment below, sudden applause erupted from the street where some guys were listening to a game.

Amidst my laundry, I took a little bow. Thank you, Harlem. You'll always be a winner to me.