by Quin Browne
Walking down the street, moving her feet to the beat of the music blaring from cars being washed in the illegally opened fire hydrants, she sees herself as some cultural pioneer in her little Sublet in the Projects. Carrying local market bags, nictitating membrane in place, she nods and smiles to the women sitting outside in order to escape the wall of heat she knows awaits her under the flat tar roof five floors up when she walks past the girls who cast an eye her way, giving measure for measure, moving their attention from her to the text messages on their phones to the toddlers they have given birth to, these children bearing children. They return to their gossip, rubbing newly swollen bellies while they discuss the fathers of these children to be, using the race to describe those boys; one chattering that the newborn will be pale and pretty 'cause "her daddy is white." Unconsciously, her mouth becomes a moue of distaste - a sudden petty thought of does she even know his name? when it strikes her no matter how evolved she thinks she is socially, no matter how much she wants to be able to say "I can do this, I can live in this place so far away from all that I am, all that I know" - she carries her label of middle class whiteness the same way the clothing on Fordham carries the labels of Sean John or Baby Phat. Tucking her head down with the acceptance of what she is unable to be causes her to quicken her feet in counterpoint to the buoyant music, to the laughter of the children playing in those illegally opened fire hydrants that secretly annoy her, to the calls of Mamii! that drift in the evening air. She finds herself dashing up those five flights of stairs to call the landlord, to break the lease on the little Sublet in the Projects - she wants to go home.
Quin Browne, author of Maelstrom, has sublet all over New York City. How else do you find out everything there is to know about your town?