It was a warm late summer night. We sat on my building stoop, lost in our own thoughts while taking in the street chatter – the locals wandering past; the cars idling, then accelerating; the sirens wailing.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done this,” I said.
“Done what?” he asked.
“This. Just sitting here.”
“Really?” He was incredulous. “It’s calming. You get to know your neighborhood better.”
We lapsed back into silence.
Growing up in a bubble of Los Angeles suburbia, and then moving to another bubble of a college town, I never really gave much thought to sitting on stoops. Moving to New York City, I had, once or twice, entertained whiling away some time on brownstone steps…innocently in Manhattan’s West Village or Upper East Side perhaps, but never in Brooklyn… or specifically, Bushwick. I still remember the culture shock I underwent when I first arrived with my bags and cat in tow. It was nighttime. I took a car service. We passed through eerie graffiti-stained walls after graffiti-stained walls, ghostly run-down buildings after run-down buildings. Garbage. Hooded figures. Sirens. Noise. From lush manicured lawns, open clean roads and huge Tuscan-inspired homes under the Southern California sun to this grimy, intimidating scene, I was immediately unnerved, and I started counting down the days until I could move across the river to what I assumed would be nice parts of Manhattan, onto streets where I was more familiar with thanks to shows like Friends and Sex and the City.
I never even gave Brooklyn a chance.
The next few weeks were spent agonizing to family back at home via phone. I knew no one in the city, and I felt completely out of place. But soon weeks turned into months, new friends were made, and perspectives shifted. That conversation on my stoop stayed with me. Once I stopped rejecting Bushwick and Brooklyn and started embracing the unique elements, I found it to be surprisingly relaxing yet invigorating, but, most of all, welcoming. Full of deep-rooted personality and endless artistic exploration, it oddly offered me a sense of place within the broader context of the world.
And so when Brooklyn-born sneaker brand Greats reached out to me, I knew it was a brand I wanted to craft and share my story with. Its “what-if” attitude – not to mention downtown chic aesthetics – resonated deeply with me, and in the form of brilliantly crafted leather sneakers that now accompany through different corners and new comfort spots around Brooklyn, I’m constantly reminded of how much I’ve grown this past year and how much there is still left to discover.
I never sat on my stoop again, but I often think back to that warm late summer night. When you give some things a chance, you just might be surprised by the magic that unfolds before your eyes.
Special thanks to Greats