Bohemia Blog by Agent Agueda Ramirez
A couple weeks go I started watching The Get Down on Netflix, which takes place Uptown in the Bronx, during the late 70s. Having been raised Uptown in the aftermath of some of The Get Down’s socio-political themes and events, I vacillated between really excited to see the story represented, and feeling like it could land a little too heavy and close to home for me. Eventually, my inner griot got the best of me and I had to see what kind of story Baz Lurman and Stephen Adly Guirgis were telling.
***Spoiler Alert: I’m going to talk about the first episode here.***
The show opens with a flashback to 1977, to a small, stuffy, 1BR apartment in the Bronx, where we meet Zeke, a young adolescent boy tenderly penning a poem:
Mylene, Mylene, my
This summer could you be
My girl and I could be
I saw this and, BOOM! My body got warm, my heart burst open like a rose unraveling in a time-lapse video, and I got a little teary-eyed. Yup, it hit home.
Immediately I was flooded with memories of my life growing up in Uptown. I paused the show, sat with my feelings, hugged my pillow and thought to myself “Oh man, young ‘hood love. So special.” In a time when Uptown was so harsh, love, in its many forms, was one of those things that could nurture and support you, and make you feel like everything was going to be all right. In that moment I felt extremely grateful for my feelings, for where I grew up, and for the people that positively contributed to my life.
I would like to share with you some of these memories and places. In honor of Valentine’s day last month, I hope you find gratitude for the love you’ve had in your life thus far, and continue to form new love memories Uptown.
Con mucho amor,
Walks on Broadway
There’s nothing cute about Broadway. It’s congested and commercial, but it’s endless! Perfect for getting lost in each other. It cuts through the entire island of Manhattan and continues into the Bronx. Politicking up Broadway with my crush was the best! The world faded except for our ideas, our potential romance, and Broadway endlessly stretching across New York. Swoon.
Walks on Convent Avenue
Oh Convent! It’s quiet, tree-lined, and because it’s on a hill the breeze off the Hudson is awesome here. I spent 3 middle school years at The Mott Hall School at 131st Street and Convent. The M18, which was my bus home, was always delayed. My friends and I would walk up Convent until the bus appeared (usually 20 blocks later). On these walks, we talked and bonded over our hopes, dreams, fears, crushes, and tough circumstances at home. We were kids but our conversations were so adult, as was the wisdom we shared with each other. I treasure those 20 blocks. So tender.
Pondering on Edgecombe Avenue
I came to know Edgecombe in my post college years. I drank beers with my crush as we talked and hung out on the benches at Jackie Robinson Park in Hamilton Heights/Sugar Hill. Gazing at the lights coming off of the Bronx, I wondered about this new version of Uptown that was happening around us. Oh, the questions.
Fort Tryon Park
This place is littered with romantic swag! But my favorite place in Fort Tryon Park is The Abbey. It’s the first place I ever felt relaxed and felt like I could dream about my future beyond just school and career. Under the canopy of Linden trees and the majestic views of the Hudson River many years ago, teenage Águeda thought to herself, “I would like to get married here someday.” So sweet.
The Little Red Lighthouse/Fort Washington Park
This was a book I read in first grade, as well as place in my neighborhood. However, I didn’t get to visit until I was in my 20’s when my friend hosted a community spoken-word and food event called the Vegan Jam. We ate healthy food and people performed. So fun! I still love to go down there to sit by the water and ponder. Such a sweet spot.
The Wall on Haven (Near J. Hood Wright Park)
At the corner of 177th and Haven, there’s a little wall, and you can catch pretty great views of the sunset, the GWB, and a nice breeze in the summer. And while that is all super romantic, I actually like to go there to mourn my breakups. I’ve had MANY broken-hearted cry-fests on the Haven wall. A beer (BYO) and 45 minutes later I would feel better and comforted. The sunset symbolically marked the end of my relationships and I would be left hopeful that the sun would rise again. Everything would be all right.
The Harlem Meer and Conservatory Garden In Central Park
Beautiful! It feels like Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland! I’ve gone on a couple of dates here in my adult life. But my fondest memory involves my Great Aunt Martina, who, when I was eight, refused to buy me a pet turtle at Petland’s Discount because she could just fish one out of the Harlem Meer for free. -_- SMH. I love my family. They keep it real!