Goodbye, East Flatbush

By Jim.henderson – Own work, CC0,

East Flatbush, I have loved you for so long that it is strange to think of saying goodbye. 

Sometimes I sit and wonder who am I to find joy in your crowded avenues and loud streets. The careless delight I feel when riding in the back of a dolla’ van. The bracing sounds, the casual smells of food cooking: oxtails, jerk chicken, Popeyes and biscuits. How no matter how many long, shiny buses the MTA sends, there will never be enough room on this adventure up Utica Avenue. Social distancing is a myth because my Pops could spit on the sidewalk and three aunties across the northeast would know from a neighbor by sundown. 

Who am I to love the little acts of violence it takes to shove my way out of the subway, a salmon upstream, a rebel with cause and focus and purpose because I was born underwater screaming? My basement and its bars will always be a home, and I will miss the little yards, the cement blocks I’ve tripped and bled on, the crooked roof and the scurrying of squirrels across its panels before they laid poison down. The way I’d stay up late to catch a glimpse of the sunrise. I’ll miss your crampedness. Your glorious trees. I’ll miss your dampness when it rains and the ceilings weep. Who am I without your darkness and fight? I think I’m just happy.

It’s been a hell of a journey through 2020, and in a way it was nice because I didn’t have time to regret. I picked up my valuables and my burdens and ran home to you East Flatbush. It’s crazy to think this pocket of the borough was our  safe haven while the world turned upside down. Thank you for that, but I think I’m okay now. I’m going to put some of this stuff I’ve been carrying down. There’s more to do in this city and you can only run so far with weighted feet. I’m ready for the reconstruction, to rebuild this decimated place.  

You’re my soft spot, cookout, carnival, and block party. Helped mold me into this fiery thing that curses out the rest of the city. Take care of my dad for me, and God bless the outcasts in my family and yours with homes. Aren’t we all just children looking?

I’ll be living minutes away as the bluebird flies. I promise I’ll come visit.