“I love it up here.” She said as she gazed into the distance. Her legs dangled off the old brownstone’s roof edge. The air was stuffy. Usually, around this time, the neighborhood would be outside. The fresh smell of barbeque floating through the block, kids soaked under the sprinkling water bursting from the fire hydrant, butts burnt by the hot stoop steps. But those were old times.
“Nice, isn’t it?” She shaded her eyes from the sun’s glare.
He lolled back, putting all his upper body weight onto his palms. “Eh, it’s alright.”
She turned to him with her nose turned up. “What do you mean it’s alright. You used to love to come up here to look out to the city.”
“Yeah, I used to.” He panned the horizon with his hand. “But now with all these new apartment buildings, you barely have a decent view.”
“True, but I think they’re nice to look at. Especially how modernized and futuristic they look.”
The clouds drifted past the towering Brooklyn condominiums. The polished windows sucked in the city’s skyline and spat out its reflection, tinted in shades of blues.
“I wonder what’s inside of them?” She questioned.
“Probably a whole bunch of ice lattes, shitty polaroid photos, and,” he
made air quotes with his fingers, “ethically made clothes.” He said snidely.
She sucked her teeth and folded her arms across her body. “Thank you, Debbie downer.”
“Ah c’ mon. You can’t even front, it’s just not the same anymore. The view, the people, the neighborhood.”
“What do you mean?”
“What do I mean? Just look at it. There’s cafes on every corner; art galleries where the barbershop used to be.” He got up, using the edge of the roof as his stage. “Shit, they even took away the Chicken Spot and replaced it with some fucking vegan taco place. And the thing is, they’re not even good and the tacos are like the size of my pinky.” He said wiggling his pinky finger.
A brief moment of silence passes.
“Look!” He pointed down towards the street at a man walking his dog.
His trousers were rolled up to his knees as if he was going to cross a river. His haircut was in the shape of a half-sliced coconut. Outdated, but now according to the world, retro is cool.
“I’ve never seen him, have you?” He asked.
She rolled her eyes, “No, but—”
“Exactly. All you see are Hipsters like him in their tucked in shirts and colorful socks, holding their mocha latte.” He said.
“But at least everything is better now. No more feeling scared to walk down the street at night. No more fiends moping around. Less violence.” She argued. “You got to look on the bright side.”
He shook his head. “Nah, you just don’t get it.”
“Get what? That the neighborhood is safer? Cleaner?”
“No. You don’t get that sooner than later, the community we were raised in, all our lives isn’t going to be ours anymore. First, it’s the yoga spots. Next, the coffee shops. Then it’s the condos. It’s only a matter of time till we’re pushed out.”
“My family lived here for thirty-seven years, it’s no way we are leaving.” She said. “They renamed the street after my grandpa, for God’s sake. I’m basically permanently stamped on the street.”
“We’ll see. A stamp ain’t nothing but a little paint.” He chucked a pebble off of the roof.
“Yeah, we will.” She got up and stomped down the fire escape.
It only took a couple of years for mortgage rates to skyrocket. A couple of weeks after that for U-hauls to start showing up in front of the brownstones. Tossed away furniture to pile on the sidewalks.
For her family, their belongings were driven to a small town in the southern part of Georgia. For his family, their things stayed put in New York, but more east, in a suburb far out in Queens. A place far from the city, but close enough to home.
Garrett is a 24 year old Native New Yorker born and raised in Brooklyn. He spent time living abroad in Bangkok and Amsterdam, where he had far too many surreal nights. Most of his work is inspired by the lives and stories around him. You can find him on his website: Geeversal.com (https://geeversal.com/)