a little surprise

on stop signs, underneath the word “STOP”, there are black and white bumper stickers that say “GENTRIFICATION”. the stickers appeared shortly after the small, plaster-colored RVs, the young pale men with long, scruffy beards, and the white women with ray-ban sunglasses and birkenstocks arrived. they often ride colorful cruiser bikes and loosely lock them outside of small shops that sell paintings, antiques, books, and other latin american goods. our guests don’t seem to notice the stares of middle-aged hispanic men sitting on brightly graffitied benches—instead, they talk amongst themselves and take pictures of murals that depict la virgen de guadalupe and skeletons dancing with sombreros on their skulls, some wearing pink folklorico dresses.

there are more mariachi groups playing on saturdays in our community’s outdoor rotunda, which at one point was empty for months, the inside of it used by the homeless as a spacious bed. the discolored white, almost yellow rotunda seems more beautiful and lively now. the upbeat mariachi songs and the augment in attendees wearing large canon cameras around their necks seemed to have illuminated the once ignored rotunda. sometimes, outside the rotunda, there are now street vendors selling apparently self-beaded rosaries and self-weaved, vibrant satchels that feature a little house, fish, tribal designs, or mayan hieroglyphics, among other goods they deem handmade.

there was also a flyer that encouraged people who wanted to live in downtown L.A., the supposed heart of Los Angeles, to look for residency in our community—we are close by, have a rich latin culture, and have inexpensive living costs compared to downtown’s. when we heard the obnoxiously loud machinery of construction taking place, we had assumed low-cost apartments were being built, which usually happens, instead of the chic lofts that now tower over our homes.

i don’t think many of us can afford live in the lovely lofts others would lust after. i’m afraid the cost of living will go up and that our community will no longer be ours, but will instead belong to our visitors. the memories of our streets, our shops, our neighbors, and our childhoods would only be persevered in photographs, the possibility of coming back to relive them, gone.

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8 thoughts on “a little surprise

  1. I love the picture of home you’ve painted here because I’ve never had that in my life. We were always moving around and I never got to stay in one place long enough to fall in love with it on such a level ❤

    However sometimes when I see the new developments altering the little random bits from my childhood–the expansive highways that have been built on cleared forest land that the bus used to drive past to and from school, or the shopping mall built on the square where we used to rent out movies, or the demolished kiosks where I would go buy chips or fudge; I do feel sad. It makes me think that despite everything there will always remain one little detail to remind us of that time and place we loved in the past, wherever that may be. And at the end of the day, thank God we still have those precious memories to keep us warm 🙂

    • Thank you Nadia! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I bet with all your moving around you’ve experienced a whole lot and have been exposed to a variety of people and cultures. Also, I see what you mean about appreciating our memories because they are always with us. It’s very true. But unfortunately sometimes my memory is like swiss cheese, haha, so I should take more pictures of my community while it hasn’t changed so drastically, now that I think about it. I am thankful that I was able to grow up in such a community that has made its way inside my heart. 🙂

      • Actually our moving was of a more domestic kind–nothing glamorous at all. I wasn’t exposed to a variety of people and cultures but I was exposed to a variety of behaviours from the people I already knew. It wasn’t all that pleasant 😦 I am so happy that you had a more stable place to grow up in which is why I said to cherish all the memories. As for the pictures, I’d love to see some of them sometime because now I can only imagine the beauty of everything you’ve described 😉

      • I’m sorry to hear that 😦 I hope that your moving around brought some good, and even though it may not seem like it now, it may make sense in the future. And my community isn’t all that as beautiful as I made it seem, but traveling to different places throughout the years made me realize how much I miss it. I will definitely take more pictures so that when I write more about my community in the future, there will be a visual 🙂 Thank you for inspiring the idea!

  2. Sounds similar to what has happened here in Sydney (supposedly 2nd highest square metre prices in the World after Hong Kong). There are some streets right in the city (The Rocks), lined with historic terraced houses, that were preserved only by the protest and the mobilisation of their blue-collar occupants, and which are now only affordable to ultra-hip white collar professionals. Such is life! 🙂

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