Tiffany—“like Tiffany & Co.”—has lived here her whole life. Her hair is woven into a neat French twist. “Cops come and sit in here,” she says, waving her hand at the shadows on the small plaza around us. A white plastic bag rustles in a spring tree. Tufts of white flowers cover the branches like a sweater, against the chill of early evening. We raise our voices over the noise of a generator, one of a score of rumbling machines across the city that has flooded housing projects with chemical light, noise, and the guise of safety for five years.
Tiffany needs to fix dinner; her kids are hungry. Her forty-first birthday is coming up. Tomorrow she’s going to a pole-dancing class with friends. “You look good,” I say. She tosses a hello to a passing neighbor who’s pushing an overflowing grocery cart. Her gold hoop earrings sparkle.