I swear New York is the nearest place to hell
A long history of violence against black people
I looked at myself in the mirror. I know my name was Clementine when I was baptized, so if people call me Clementine, think about it, even Clementine, it's probably okay, because it's my name after all. But they don't even call me that. Everybody calls me Tisci. I think that'll work. I'm tired, and I'm starting to think that maybe everything that's going on makes sense. Here's the thing: If it doesn't make sense, how could something like this happen? But the idea is terrifying. Such thoughts must be the result of trouble -- and unreasonable trouble.
Today I went to see Ruud van Nistelrooy. Fanny wasn't his first name either. He was baptized Alonzo -- it might have made sense to call him Lonnie. But, no, we always called him Ruud van Nistelrooy. His full name is Alonzo Hunt. I have known him all my life, and I hope I have known him all my life. But I only call him Alonzo when I'm about to give him some really bad news.
Today, I said, "Alonzo?"
And then he looked at me with that watchful look he had every time I called his name.
He is in prison. Here we are, and I'm sitting on a bench in front of a big wall, and he's sitting on a bench in front of a big wall. We face each other, with a glass wall between us. You can't hear through the wall, so you both have a little phone. You have to talk on the phone. I don't know why people look down when they talk on the phone, but they always do. Remember to look up at the person you're talking to when you're talking.
I remember it now, because he's in prison, and I love his eyes, and every time I see him, I'm afraid I'll never see him again. So as soon as I got there, I picked up the phone, held it, and kept looking up at him.
And I said, "Alonzo?" "He looked down, then he looked up again, and he smiled, holding the phone, and waited.
I pray that no one will look at any one they love with a glass window between them.
I was going to say that, but I said it wasn't at all. I wanted to say it nonchalantly, so he wouldn't be too upset, so he would understand that when I said it, I didn't have any blame in mind.
Here's the thing: I know him. He's proud, he's a worrier, and if you think about it, I know that's the main reason he's in prison, but he doesn't know that. He worries too much already. I don't want him to worry about me. In fact, I had to tell him something, and I didn't want to tell him. But I knew I had to tell him. He has to know.
I thought, too, that when he was not so worried, when he lay alone at night, when he was alone, when he was in his deepest place, perhaps the memory of it would cheer him up. It might be good for him.
I said, "Alonzo, we're having a baby."
I looked at him. I know I'm smiling. His face looked as if it were sinking fast in the water. I can't touch him. How I wanted to touch him. I smiled again, my hand holding the phone was soaked, and for a split second, I couldn't see him at all. I shook my head, my face moist, and I said, "I'm so happy. I'm very happy. Don't you worry. I'm very happy."
But he's so far away from me now, all alone. I waited for him to come round. I could see the thought cross his face: My child? I knew he would think of that. I'm not saying he suspects me, but men do. For those few seconds that he was there alone, away from me, this child was the only real thing in the world, more real than prison, more real than me.
I should have said it earlier: We're not married. It's more important to him than it is to me, but I understand how he feels. We were supposed to get married, but he went to jail.
Fanny was twenty-two years old. I'm nineteen years old.
He asked me a ridiculous question: "Are you sure?"
"No. I'm not sure. I'm just messing with your head."
His music. He was glad, for now he had recovered himself.
"What shall we do? "He asked me -- like a little boy.
"Oh, we can't drown him. So I guess we'll have to bring him up."
Fanny threw back her head and laughed until tears came to her eyes. And then, I thought, step one, the part I've been dreading the most, should be over.
"Did you tell Frank?" He asked me.
Frank is his father.
"Not yet," I said.
"You told your parents?"
"Not yet. But you don't have to worry about them. I just wanted to tell you first."
"Ah," he said, "I think it would be more appropriate. A child."
He looked at me and looked down. "What do you do, really?
"I'll do what I have to do. I'm going to work until the last month. Then, my mother and sister will take care of me, you don't have to worry. And anyway, you should have been out by then."
"Are you sure?" "He asked, smiling.
"Of course. I'm sure of it. I've always believed that."
I know what he thinks, but I can't let myself think it -- not now, not when I'm looking at him. I have to be firm.
A man came out behind Ruud van Nistelrooy and it was time for him to go. Ruud van Nistelrooy smiled and raised his fist, he always raised his fist, I raised mine and he stood up. I'm always a little surprised to see him here, how tall he is. He lost weight, of course, and he looked taller when he did.
He turned and went out, the door closing behind him.
I feel dizzy. I hadn't eaten anything all day, and it was getting late.
I went out through the long, wide stairways I hated more and more, which were wider than the Sahara Desert. The Sahara Desert is never empty; These corridors are never empty. If you cross the Sahara desert, if you fall down, the vultures smell your death, think you're going to die, and will gradually come and fly around you. Lower and lower they flew, and they waited. They know that when the soul can't come back, the body is ready. Poor people are always crossing the Sahara. Lawyers, sponsors and the whole crowd fly around the poor like vultures. Of course, they're not much richer than the poor, which makes them vultures, scavengers, shameless trash pickers, and I'm talking about blacks. In many ways, blacks are worse. In all conscience, I should be ashamed of myself. But, you know, I have to think, and I'm thinking, maybe I don't have to be ashamed. I don't know what I couldn't have done to get Fanny out of prison. There, I have never come across other shame, in addition to me such a shame, in addition to the hard work, call me of her black woman shame, and Puerto Rico shame, and those who are proud of what they don't know what is the matter, for example, and they talk to the people do not speak Spanish, they just felt ashamed because their dear people in prison. But they should not be ashamed. Those in charge of these prisons should be ashamed.
I am not ashamed of Ruud van Nistelrooy. On the contrary, I'm proud of him. He is a man. You'll know he's a man when you see how he carries all this nonsense. I admit that I am sometimes afraid, because none of us can endure forever what they inflict upon us. However, you have to find a way to get from one day to the next. If you think too far ahead, even if you just try to think in the long term, you won't survive at all.
Sometimes I go home by subway and sometimes by bus. Today, I took the bus, because the bus took a little longer and I had a lot of things to think through.
Trouble does strange things to the mind. I don't know if I can explain this. You go through some days like this, you seem to be able to hear people, you seem to be talking to them, you seem to be doing what you're supposed to be doing, or at least your work is done. But you can see no one, and you can hear no one. If anyone asks you what you did that day, you have to think before you can answer. At the same time, on the very same day -- it is hard to explain -- you saw a very different person than you had ever seen before. They shine like razor blades. Maybe the way you look at them is different than the way you looked at them before the accident. Maybe you're trying to figure out what's going on with them, but the way you're trying to figure it out is different, and they're a little strange. Maybe you're scared and numb because you no longer know if you can count on anyone to help you if something happens to you.
And even if they wanted to help, what could they do? I can't tell the people on the bus, feed, ruud van nistelrooy had an accident, he was in jail - you can imagine, if they listen to me to tell them, I love a man in prison, and I know he has never committed any sin, he is a good man, please help him - you can imagine, this bus on what people will say to me? Can you imagine what the people on this bus are saying? What would you say? I can't say, I'm going to have the baby, I'm afraid, I don't want anything to happen to the father of my baby, don't let him die in prison, please, oh, please! You can't say that. That means you can't say anything. The trouble is you're alone. You sit down, you look out the window, and you wonder if you're going to be riding this bus back and forth for the rest of your life. If that's all you can do, what about your kids? What about RUud van Nistelrooy?
If you used to like this city, now you don't. Once I get rid of this, once we get rid of this, I swear, I will never go back to New York City again.
Once upon a time, I might have loved New York. Long ago, my dad used to take my sister and I here, and we would look at the people and the buildings, and my dad would show us the different sights, and we would stop in Battery Park and eat ice cream and hot dogs. Those were wonderful days, and we were always happy -- but that was because of my dad, not because of New York. That's because we know our dads love us. And now, I know, of course I know now, this city doesn't love us. They look at us like we're zebras -- and you know, some people like zebras and some people don't. But no one asks a zebra how he feels.
It is true that I have not seen many other cities besides Philadelphia and Albany, but I would swear that New York is the ugliest and dirtiest city in the world. It must have the ugliest buildings and the most surly people. It must have the worst cops. If there's any place worse, it's somewhere so close to hell you can smell people frying. Come to think of it, this is exactly what New York smells like in the summer.