Saturday, April 10, 2010
My Local Drug Dealers
As much as I love my current neighborhood in New York (the Lower East Side), it doesn't have nearly enough drug dealers for my taste. There's something about having a stable crew of pushers outside my door that just makes me feel secure, and this winter in Paris, I had just that.
I realize it might sound strange to admit that I derive comfort from knowing that there is criminal activity occurring a stone's throw from where I sleep, but if you simply think of the dealers as unofficial doormen, it's really quite nice having them there.
The Paris apartment I'm referring to was in Belleville—not a dangerous neighborhood by any means, but certainly well off the bourgeois map. Let's just say, I can imagine the face my mother would have made had she seen my block which, luckily, she never did. But, as is exemplified by the fact that I lived there, Belleville is quickly gentrifying, so check it out ASAP if you haven't already.
But back to my local drug dealers, they were there when I came home in the evening, when I went back out for the night, and when I came back late night. They tended to take the mornings off, understandably; none of us can work 'round the clock.
After about a week, they got to know me. They would say hi, they would part like the Red Sea to let me through, they would push each other out of the way if one was blocking my door. Dare I say they were gentlemanly? I could call it an arrangement of mutual tolerance, but in fact, it was more than tolerance (at least, on my side). I think I loved them.
On the rare occasions when I came home and they weren't there, the silence on the street was deafening. Well, maybe not deafening, but noticeable. I had grown to like them and to count on them. And I knew that—unless one of them killed me—I was extra safe for their presence.
So now you understand why it's somewhat boring to come home to my building in New York—it's so sterile, so yuppified, so free of loiterers. It makes me think about my doorway in Belleville, where I know my dealers are still keeping watch, doing their thing, night after night.
I guess it's a bit unsettling to think that the reliability of those drug dealers was one of the more consistent elements of my recent life, but voila, there it is. As we learn again and again, life works in mysterious ways.