I sleep with the windows open. I welcome the night air as it fills my bedroom, and on the mornings I am lucky enough to rise early, I get to hear my city come to life. On the mornings I am not so lucky, my alarm clock is the rattling of jackhammers. My neighborhood is constantly under construction, and I am often awakened by the wheels of change: the capitalist promise of more is better, new is now, the future is for those with unending resources. Crooklyn by any other name.
The wheels of change create cracks in my ceiling that will surely, over time, devour my building so some gleaming testament to well-funded bootstraps can stand in its place. I, too, am well-bred and well-fed, which I see makes me part of the problem, but the wheels of change come for us all.
Gentrification, after all, is not erasure but consumption. And no one here is outside the food chain. There is comfort in that. Though often cold, the comfort in our communal awareness means something. Small moments in shared humanity mean something.
The girl with the chevron bangs behind the bookstore counter commends my purchase choices — we both glow. A bookstore in a shopping mall, what is old is new again, all that changes is the branding.
The bodega owner does not know my name, and I do not know his, but we share smiles and eye rolls at the guy who just cannot decide between the La Croix and the kombucha. We talk about the weather, and we mean it. He doesn’t sell loose tobacco anymore.
The old childhood friend I bump into more than is statistically probable, and we’re always happy we do, though the meetings have gotten shorter over time, now reduced to stale pleasantries. We don’t pretend we mean it when we say, “let’s get drinks sometime.” We don’t even say it anymore. The wheels of change come for all of us, and it happens in tiny, imperceptible increments. Miss them and they consume you.
I still sleep with the windows open, even with the jackhammers. They remind me that nothing lasts forever, and something new is always around the corner. My city, like my neighborhood, like my life is always under construction. And I’m the hopeful little idiot who lies awake at night thinking,
tomorrow, there will be peace.
I’m on Instagram, et al. [at]stephmakesfaces.