Eight years running up First Avenue, this was just part of a long stretch of chain link covering a long black iron fence that hid mysterious doors and shaded windows.
Until this morning when in the middle of what had seemed like an unbreakable fortress a gate was suddenly there.
And all around it were things like china bowls and wind chimes and a straw basket and a bizarre red robe.
And right past the gate was a door.
And inside that door was a block long treasure chest of just about everything and anything and what you used to see all the time in tons of shops on every avenue and street but now barely ever unless it was in a movie about a New York that wasn't anymore. Or you were out of town.
But this was real.
You open? I shouted to the guy in the back.
"Yeah we're open. "
How much for the basket?
"How much you do you want it for?"
I was late so I didn't insist on 3.
"I got lots of designer stuff..." he said. "I got this guy and that guy and her and them and..."
Nah, I told him. I wasn't interested in all that. I was interested in a two dollar basket I paid five for.
"I got books that will blow you away..."
NO. No more books allowed. That and bags. And maybe boots.
I gotta go. I gotta get to work. Can I take a picture?
"Yeah, take whatever you want" he shouted after me as he answered the phone.
Snapping away but unable to stop looking at all the nooks and crannies that had promises and secrets and things you didn't see anymore unless you were in a movie or out of town.
"Are you still here?" he shouted from the back. "Get outta here!"
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.