11 July 2007...3:42 pm

Share The Road

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I had a emotional morning, having discovered that: I am far more deeply moved by a slightly loutish soon-to-be-ex-firefighter reckoning with a six-year-old trauma than I would be by an equally strapping young gentleman in well-tailored yellow suspenders trying to get my (fictional) kitty down from a (frightfully real) tree.

Maybe I should have assumed that. I was perhaps giving myself too little credit. Or my libido too much.

I decided to deal with my fraught by going on a bike ride. Yes, it’s ninety-two degrees: counter trauma with trauma and you’re guaranteed to come out, if not a winner, then with heatstroke?

I rode to Greenpoint. I love riding to Greenpoint. I have a crush on everyone there. The neighborhood’s relative isolation renders its denizens, in my mind, as mysterious as the G train at the stops past Court Square. And today it allowed me to discover the root of all my nostalgia: brine.

I admit to being a proud pubescent when my mother saw that I’d rented John Sayles’s “City of Hope“–about corruption and sex and family in Jersey City, basically–and said, no trace of her Miss Porter’s enunciation spared, “Emma, those are your roots.” So I decided, okay, nostalgia: Jersey City.


But I grew up other places, too, like South Orange and Ocean City, where my parents have a house for which I have never failed to voice my loathing. Ocean City is a dry town, it’s ugly, we have Linoleum Siding there, and Philadelphia accents abound. I am a city girl, I think to myself and have thought ever since I thought anything; oily bus fumes cannot permeate my Eden.

Eh? Not true. I love Greenpoint because it smells like Ocean City. DuPont Street? (Seriously, there’s a DuPont Street). DuPont Street is olfactorily just like the corner of West Avenue and 41st Street. And then, if you turn south on Provost Street, it smells like nail polish. I have a baby sister. That smell is not a foreign one.

And then there’s another smell, too, but it’s less a smell than a kind of air. The streets are quiet and the air is thick in meekly industrial Greenpoint, where kids roll a basketball back and forth in front of the Atlas Sport and Trophy Co. sign that proclaims “Celebrate Employee Milestones! 1 0 6 4 Days Without A Preventable Vehicular Accident!

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