May 28, 2021

Tess The Bag Lady

Hearing a loud scary scream and repeated random ranting from yet another homeless person, I opened my window and was ready to yell at them to be quiet. But then I listened to the woman below and it brought me back to growing up in the Bronx and listening to the rants and screaming of the neighborhood bag lady. She walked by our apartment building almost daily and rested on the stoop of our building. I called her "Tess the bag lady" and I can still see her face clearly. 

I remember her bright red lipstick smeared all over her face and her slightly hunched back as she walked by with all her shopping bags on her arms. I can still see the black beret that pulled back her salt and pepper hair from her lost and searching eyes. She would scream and carry on usually cursing as her eyes darted madly. She'd rummage through the garbage cans or would go through her bags overstuffed with her "treasures" while sitting on our stoop.

I remember her every time a homeless person is in my neighborhood now (which is pretty much everyday). I'm fascinated, repulsed, annoyed but find it so unbelievable that it's still treated the same way... ignored. It makes me sad.

We didn’t have a name or label for these sad souls back then. I just called our "neighbor" Tess. I yelled out my window to the woman below "Hey Tess, keep it down, will ya?" She yelled back "Sorry" followed by a string of curses as she slowly made her way down the block.

I'll always be a New Yorker thanks to my New York memories... And I have a lot of them... "And that's nyc2vin."

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