For Viewsday Tuesday, my friend Brion is showing us his view from Harlem, NYC. I love Brion’s neighborhood, so I asked him to take us on a tour. An area rich in history, the architecture is spectacular, and the local vibe is friendly and diverse.
Brion is the person who “dug me out” of my New York apartment in 2017, and started me on a purging trend that I continue to this day. It was a deeply emotional journey that changed me, lightened me personally, and readied me for a bigger (and more unpredictable) life. Brion is part organizer, part psychologist, part mystic—and the perfect person for this kind of work. He has an enormous personality and even bigger heart—and his super power is empathy.
“It can’t be this way, anymore,” he said, as he surveyed my place—and me—during our consultation. I had been holding on to so many things, holding on to my past life, including 20 years of design projects stowed in 20 boxes. I’d taken them with me from job to job, but when I left my magazine publishing career in 2014, the boxes came home with me. They sat in my living room for three years while I ran away to Paris. Purging those projects was the most painful job of all. Brion would hold up each item and challenge me: “To what end, Lisa?” This is not your career anymore. I could not avoid the truth: everything I was holding on to was holding me back. To what end?
Week after week, we lightened my apartment—closets, corners, shelves, 400 pounds of paperwork (lower your eyebrows; you have it too)—impacting me both physically and emotionally. Now, I’m a self-starter; I purge constantly. The last big purge was again to my New York place early this year. I had major breakthroughs during the process, and afterward, I knew I was no longer the same person. I returned to Paris stronger and ready for whatever life had in store. It’s a good thing, too, because “whatever” came with a vengeance.
Lockdown with Brion
Confinement in New York City is similar to Paris, with the exception that parks are still open. New Yorkers in general take the rules very seriously (we’re paranoid and neurotic on a good day), which might account for an improvement in the numbers in the last week or so. Brion, a very centered person, has a more balanced view of the pandemic; he’s not paranoid, but not reckless, either. He’s mindful of the moment, and takes walks every day to keep his head clear. In his part of town there are glorious parks on the Harlem River, so he can enjoy truly bucolic settings right in the heart of the city.
Brion regales us with photos of the neighborhood taken on his walks…
The 18th- and 19th-Century architecture is remarkable, from the smallest house to the most luxurious mansion.
On today’s bookshelf