Waking up, in New York

Jennifer Lena

Arrived: 1996

Although I had been in New York probably hundreds of times as a kid to visit my aunt, I had never been to Morningside Heights.  My boyfriend Jon moved my stuff into the apartment–a 220 sq. foot room with one window looking onto an airshaft.  The morning after he left, I walked the two blocks to Columbia’s campus where I would start graduate school in a few days.  Standing on the corner of 115th and Amsterdam, I noticed an older woman standing next to me, probably because she smelled kind of ripe.  As I watched her out of the corner of my eye, she proceeded to take off the blanket she was using as a shawl, and throw it into the metal, grated trashcan on the corner.  Next off was her hat, then her shoes.  The skirt next, and stockings, her sweater and a blouse.  In no time at all, she was standing on the corner in her underwear.  The light changed, and we walked across the street, onto campus. I stayed in that apartment for seven years.

More stories of New Yorker’s first memories here.


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