Tuesday, June 10, 2008


My relationship with my Little Sister, Jenny, seems to be going from strenght to strenght.

When we are alone she can't stop talking, excitingly telling me about her latest sailing trip or school project - in stark contrast from her near silence of a few months back. We still communicate online often, although she has now realised that I have a life of my own and that we have to arrange a time to talk that works for the both of us. She has a new found interest in poetry, after an assignement she had to complete for school, and often sends me her poems which I am actively encouraging her to keep writing.
She recently asked me to help her with her maths homework: "If the shadow of an 8 feet tree measures 4 feet, and a nearby building's shadow measures 16 feet, how tall is the building?". I realised that I don't remember any of the hard-learned mathematical formulas of my youth but the solution was very easy of course and didn't require them - this is a problem intended for 11 years old children after all so even I can manage that! The hardest part came in trying to guide her to the solution, without giving it to her on a plate, despite her insistence that I do so.
In our second to last session, we were asked if we wanted to pair up again next year and I am happy to report that we both agreed to. I am glad that I will carry on mentoring Jenny and see her hopefully flourish over the coming months.

But the reality of New York City or, more precisely, the New York City that our Littles live in, dawned on me in a particularly gruesome way this week.

We learned that the mother of one of our Littles was brutally murdered last week. We were all shocked by the news and have been coached on what to say, should our respective Littles want to talk about it. Jenny has not mentioned it yet but I can't imagine how I would have felt as young child if one my school friends' mum had been killed ... In fact, I can't even imagine what it would feel like as a 33 years old woman as I've never lived in an environment where something like this could happen.

New York is a much safer place when it was in the 80s, at the peak of the crack epidemic, and by the end of the 90s crime had dramatically decreased (as explained from a very interesting angle in "The Tipping Point"). But even in 1998, the year in which I first visited the City, I remember mistakenly ending up on a corner of Bowery, feeling watched and unsafe despite the afternoon hour. Bowery is now an up & coming area, rapidly filling up with edgy designer boutiques, a cool new museum and trendy restaurants, and I often stroll through the very same corner when walking from the Lower East Side to Soho.

My New York is incredibly safe and I have never felt in any danger, however mild. But I am now even more aware that it is in a very privileged New York that I live and play in every day ...

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