Dear Bronx,

Peace up A-town down, Bronx-hizzle?!? It’s ya home girl, Sarahjuana!

You know, I’ve been living in this virtual paradise of a city for a couple of years now, and I feel I’ve assimilated quite nicely. I mean…I’m blendin’ in, yo. I’m draggin’ that shit all over town.

Really though, after the time I’ve spent in you, Bronx, I’ve come to realize how much you kick Manhattan straight in the asshole, but never get any credit for that shit. I mean, Manhattan is not all it’s cracked up to be. Times Square equals square times. Manhattan is like, when you’re 12 years old and you’re on Legends of the Hidden Temple, and you’re all pumped for the grand prize, and then it turns out to be a lame-ass trip to Space Camp. But more importantly, I’m pretty sure that all my ho’s and bro’s of the Bronx still think I’m this little white girl from Connecticut who doesn’t know a thing about what it takes to tear it up Boogie Down style. Au contraire, Bronx, I keep it street. And that is why I write this love letter to you.

I love you because of your hard-knox ways. It’s not any city that I can hear the sound of a machine gun outside my window and go on with daily life like it ain’t nothin’ but a thing. You’re not softening up for anybody, and you like it like that. For example, the other day, a group of girls from my school were walking down Arthur Ave, and some guy swaggered right into the middle of their group and tried to steal one girl’s purse. Instead of giving it up, this girl fought back while her friend tried to apprehend the purse stealer; quite possibly the dumbest idea in America, because you know what he did? That thug straight up punched her in the face! Only in the Bronx will you find hardened criminals smackin’ college bitches up and down the avenue.

And oh Bronx, here’s another example of your no mercy ways. As you know, the most delicious eating establishments that go by the name of White Castle are liberally sprinkled all over your fine ass. White Castle: the only place in the city where one can buy a sack of 15 miniature hamburgers for the bargain price of $5.99. If I wasn’t a vegetarian, I’m sure I would satisfy my palate there all the time, subsequently designating 10% more of my time to the bathroom. Well here’s a little known fact to some: White Castle is one of the most dangerous places in all of New York. In my freshman year of college, some guy got hammered to death in the parking lot of our local White Castle. And by hammered to death, I mean hit with a hammer until life ceased to exist in him. Oh Bronx, you rebel, you.

I love you Bronx because I always know what to expect on your local subway, the D train. It’s by far the worst kempt in the NYC subway system, so it never keeps me guessing. If I walk down into the station and it smells like hot pee, that’s because indeed, the gentleman standing not four feet away from me has just urinated all over the staircase. That large buffalo I just saw scamper across the train tracks? Silly me, it was just your everyday, local sewer rat. And if I step on broken glass, I don’t even need to think about getting that tetanus shot because, hot damn, I know I’ve just contracted Hepatitis B.

I love the D train because without fail, I am always the only white person riding it until Columbus Circle and it feels so good to finally get some diversity in my life. My favorite thing about the D train though, is that with all the people who get on and perform for change, it’s like my own personal little Broadway. Where else would I find a homeless man screaming “rock and roll McDonald’s” into a plastic bag? Not in some whack performance of The Producers, that’s for sure! Oh Bronx…blissful, beautiful, bountiful Bronx!

I love you Bronx because nowhere else in the world can I walk out onto the street and buy a Bible and a bong at the very same vendor. I mean, that’s a birthday present for my mom right there in one fell swoop. And if I wanna look fly at the club, all I have to do is stop by one of the high-class garment retailers on Fordham Road like Pretty Girl, Easy-Pickin’s, or Dr. Jay’s Ladieez. I can choose from an array of nipple coverings, perhaps a tangerine thong, and a sexy pair of booty jeans so I can shake what my Mama gave me. Which isn’t much, but if I stuff a couple of cantaloupes in there I can fake it pretty well.

Or, I can just load up on some of the soulful, delicious Bronx treats that they sell roadside: Those honey roasted peanuts, or that onion stuff coated in…some kind of…crust, or that uh, ambiguous meat on a stick with something-sauce or those genetically-engineered peeled fruits chopped with a rusty knife….actually, I avoid your yucky roadside food altogether, Bronx. I ain’t feeling that so much.

But the best Bronx purchase I’ve ever made was last Friday. My roommate Gwen and I were strollin’ back from the D train on Fordham Road when this Asian lady in a fluffy, white parka with a crazy gleam in her eye approached us holding a clear, plastic container holding two small turtles the size of half dollars. Immediately, I loved these turtles like a fat kid loves cake, and ten bucks later, we were the parents of two baby Bronx red-eared sliders.

What we didn’t realize is that these turtles are crack turtles. We know because for the past week, they have been continuously beating the crap out of each other, all the while refusing to eat, probably from crack withdrawal. We named them Bobby and Whitney because they’re violent drug addicts laden with cholera. We’ll take care of them forever and ever. Which really only means for the next couple of weeks until we realize that they will inevitably die under our care, and then we will release them in a pond at The Botanical Gardens. Word.

Oh Bronx, more than anything about you, I love all your locals who make you the diverse, spicy, energy-filled borough you are. I love that guy who stands outside the Metro-North station every Sunday on a wooden platform with a microphone to preach the word of God and accuse all white people of being the devil. Every time I walk by he shouts profanities at me and damns me to Hell. But I just smile and wave, because I don’t think he’s realized that no matter what he says, I’m going to Hell anyway. I’m badass like that.

I don’t take his curses personally though, because he hates every kind of person there is. One time my friend Liz pretended to be a lesbian just so he would perform an exorcism on her. He placed his hand right on her forehead and through his microphone shouted, “CHILD, BE STRAIGHT! PRAISE THE LORD!” He yelled this repeatedly, so loudly that the sound resonated in some neighborhoods as far away as Staten Island. Liz didn’t know what to do, so after a while, she just started yelling, “I love penis! I love penis!!” That was nice of Liz, because she actually made that man believe that he had cured her of her lesbianism. Good Samaritans we are, here in the Bronx.

I love the street corner prostitutes that hang out by the newsstand a couple blocks away from campus. Crystal, Destiny, Chastity, Candy, Angel, Dyslexia, and the rest of the herd stomp the yard and do their prostitute thang. And even though I know what they do for a living is totally illegal and unfulfilling, I get a little envious because they all look so damn hot from 50 yards away. But in a weird way, it also gives me hope that maybe from 50 yards, some unsuspecting young man will mistake me for being good looking, too.

Not to cut myself short or anything—Bronx locals hit me on all the time! Sometimes, men only 30 or 40 years my senior will ogle me and whistle at me as I strut down the street. I try to ignore the bizarre types of lingus they’re probably fantasizing about and accept every catcall as a gracious compliment. Because I’m not getting any of those from boys my own age (this is your cue to collectively feel bad for me).

Perhaps my favorite people in the entire Bronx are the Italian bodega owners. Upon entering their stores, they always greet me with a hug and a very respectable handshake, commenting on how intelligent and literary I am with my copy of The Onion. Most importantly, though, they never fail to supply my friends in our rampant race toward alcoholism. They so generously overlook our status as underagers and help fill up our liquor baskets with Majorska, Aftershock, Jack Daniels, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff Ice, those little TGI Fridays Mudslides, and my personal fave, Arbor Mist Tropical Fruit Chardonnay. Then we leave the bodegas, hail a gypsy cab, heckle with the driver in rudimentary Spanish, and drive off into the sunset with Poland Springs bottles full of malt liquor. Oh the good, wholesome fun we have in the Bronx.

Now Bronx, you may think that this letter to you is merely a grouping of unconnected ramblings that don’t lead to any specific point, and usually that is a characteristic typical of my writing. But this letter holds a much deeper meaning.

Though I try, I truly do not fit in with the Bronx culture, and this leaves me bitter, harsh, and caustic. I am trying to strip myself of my Connecticut ways: the pearls, the Ralph Lauren sweaters, the ignorant, elitist attitude. I’m gonna try hard to fit in to some Apple Bottoms Jeans and keep it real in the Boogie Down.

So if you see me trading in my East Coast vocabulary for some spicy Bronx attitude and I’m lookin’ all a fool, harden not your heart and give me some room to grow. In due time, I will adapt to the true ways of the B-X. In the meantime, you keep curb stompin’ Manhattan, ya heard?


S. Baby