I drove through the Bronx this evening, from the southwest corner to the northeast neighborhood where my family has lived for most of my life.
There is nothing grand or gracious about E Tremont Avenue, it is gritty, narrow and in the warm glow of dusk, it is tired and grey. People walk slowly, shifting weight that tells of pain and hard work. On one busy street, 5 spindly men in over-size sweatshirts try and fail to lift the awning of a new African restaurant into place. It crashes down and and the man who has been supervising looks out at the traffic and sighs. An old woman in a faded pink housedress and slippers shuffles along in the shade of a canopy, clutching a grocery bag. Her spine is curved, but her eyes are still sharp. I consider offering her a ride home but the light turns green and I hit the gas.
I want to love the Bronx, to feel the compassion and hope, but instead, I drive through rage and sorrow and the lack of grace, the loneliness, the narrowness of the streets, dig into me. And I drive.