Me and my boo.
A neighborhood on the cusp of gentrification is a lot like being at the tippy, tippy top of a rollercoaster right before it commences with a two-hundred-foot drop. It’s quiet. So quiet, in fact, that I kind of fool myself into thinking that I’m not on a rollercoaster at all. Rather, that I’m home, comfortably digging my toes into a rug as I watch an episode of Living Single while teaching my boo how to use an afro pic in my hair (spoiler alert: my boyfriend’s white!), and that’s when I let my defenses down.
I take a breath of fresh air and savor it for a few moments. My body relaxes and I spread out in my seat like olive oil on a saucer. Then I hear the click of the gears on the rollercoaster, which causes the section that I’m sitting in to shift forward ever so slightly. Sure, it’s a shift that’s probably imperceptible to the eye, but when you’re two hundred feet up in the air and your body is slowly being forced into that Michael Jackson in Smooth Criminal lean, you will start asking Jesus to take every wheel you can think of — the steering wheel, the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, and the cheese wheel from Tom and Jerry cartoons.
And then boom! The rollercoaster drops and I’m screaming my head off alternating between glee and fear. And then it’s over. I high-five the friend next to me and get some funnel cake. Because I’m American and the reward for unnecessarily scaring myself is unnecessarily clogging my heart with fried dough.
Yeah. Gentrification is pretty much like that except instead of the thrill of a ride, an organic grocery store pops up three blocks from where I live and all of a sudden, the old black ladies with holes in their shoes, y’know, probably from marching, who lived in my apartment building have been replaced by young white folk with holes in their shoes because THEY BOUGHT THEM THAT WAY. I will never understand that.
Anyway, as Bob Dylan would say, “These times, they are a-changing.” And they are a-changing near my doorstep, which is strange for me because even though I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the past 12 years, this is definitely the first time I’ve lived in a neighborhood that’s in the process of gentrifying, and that has made some people understandably upset.