Harlem on My Mind

Dear Dumplin,

Your Dad and I met on the B train one evening heading to Harlem. As the saying goes, the rest is history. Harlem has a special place in my heart and I’ve missed it a lot recently! I was born there; it has awesome food, amazing art, and a musical history that’s too much to type about here. Harlem is like the best friend you never want to loose. For better or for worse, you never want to leave Harlem’s side. I never knew it was possible to have a deep love for a place until I left it to move to New Jersey.

In August 2008, your Dad and I moved to central New Jersey after deciding we wanted to own our own property. We tried and tried to find a place in Harlem that was big enough to start a family and had all of the amenities we wanted. Once we began to compare prices and square footage of New Jersey and the outskirts of New York City to our beloved Harlem, there was just no comparison. Now that I have you, I find myself wondering how you would have liked growing up in the Big Apple.

Don’t get me wrong, New Jersey is beautiful! When you were a baby, we tried to show you the deer in the back yard. (You just looked at me strangely.) You love trees and the sounds of birds. You watch blue jays and cardinals in such awe and amazement. You have space to run around, and should you become a big sister, there is room for your little brother or sister. You love your school! You can’t wait to go every morning. Your teachers give me good reports daily and I can see how much you are learning. One of the reasons we picked this area is because of the blue ribbon school district.

However, I’ve missed Harlem a lot recently. I miss being able go for walks and let my feet lead the way. I miss the sounds and smells. I miss the endless walks up and down 125th street to see what vendors are selling. (I remember when the Mart 125 was open.  Long story….)  In the summertime, I miss the cars driving around with the latest music playing. I miss street fairs and little kids ridding their bikes on the sidewalk. Your Auntie and me used to take endless walks around the City College of New York campus. It is so beautiful. The architecture and brownstones in Hamilton Heights is a sight to see.

When you are a little older, there are a few places I want to take you. I want you to see the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Apollo Theater. I don’t want to forget the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture either. Hamilton Grange was moved a few years back but it’s still in Harlem where it belongs. Maybe we could take a walk past Columbia University during the holidays. They always have gorgeous lights and decorations. I hope I can show you all there is to love about Harlem. Harlem’s changed a lot since I left. I drove by 125th street the other day and saw an Applebee’s restaurant. How odd! I hope the culture, history, and uniqueness of Harlem hasn’t been erased by the time I get to take you. I love Harlem and I want you to love it to.

What I want you to know? Where you come from… So that you can see clearly where you are going.

Love,

Mama

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