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22.7.08

Brooklyn: Bed-Stuy

posted by Jamila

Although she liked to think her open mind led her on the cutting edge, she was always showing up to places just a little too late.

She showed up to the Village to find it already swarmed with trendy young things playing the college party circuit.

So she went farther East on an apartment hunt only to find it already full of hipsters (as if she'd be one of them! Pish).

A little farther South, she found the apartments slightly brighter, the crowd slightly older, but, well, it kind of smelled fishy.

So she gave in and tried something "different"—an apartment on the Upper East Side. Only to find that it was already full of young 20-somethings who coveted its larger apartments and cleaner streets and, well, pretty decent shopping, no?

Somewhat alarmed that every nook and cranny of this island was not just discovered, but absolutely crawling with people, she took a new apartment in Brooklyn on a whim and the slight forecast of a dream (always a little superstitious, she is). And she finally found it. A place just barely discovered. A place where people actually looked at her because she didn't fit in. A place in the same natural state it had been in for years.

A shifting place. A neighborhood her cab drivers never knew and for which they required directions, a place some of those drivers confessed they "never wanted to know". "A little rough?" men with vans thought. Rough around the edges, for sure, and certain areas not quite as comfortable as her own. Neglected buildings—masterpieces in their heighday, now just elegant, faded façades of their former brilliance. Wars with creepy crawlies that come through cracks in the floors, leaks in the walls and ceilings, and the backyard soil that really isn't soil, but some kind of...clay? Digging and caulking and plastering, refinishing the edges of this shifting place...

She liked to call it "Glam Ruin," her new style. A mixture of antique luxury and the unfinished. Paintings covering outlets and curtains covering holes, that sort of thing. A statue there, a carpet here...

And so it is a place full of evolution. Each layer of existence somehow exposed, somehow faintly covered up. Full of memories, lost: a pile of seashells in the dirt. Full of promises: that these seashells might bring a smile to a stranger's face.

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