I forgot to write about yesterday's dream. In it, my hair went completely white, so white that even though it had been dyed brown, the white white roots kept coming through. It was as if no matter what I did to cover it over, the inevitability of the gray, and my aging, was in front of me.
Hmmm... I had taken Maddie out earlier and walked through my neighborhood in the rain when I remembered the dream of seeing myself in the mirror, unable to control time. I live in Carroll Gardens, in Brooklyn, right near the Gowanus Canal (which many a gangster has thrown many a sad sack into) and the neighborhood is completely gentrifying. More like gentrified, though this particular section of the neighborhood still holds some of the old factories and warehouses, a contrast to the brownstones and newly-renovated spaces to the West. My block is industrial meets Italian neighborhood, but I have lived in or around this neighborhood for nearly a decade. My first apartment was the bottom of a brownstone and I had the most tremendous garden, but the ceilings of the apartment were nearly as low as my forehead. That time I associate as laying low, crouching down so as not to constantly bang my head. My bed was next to the window and I remember thinking, someone could just reach in. I remember lying there at night wondering what I'd do if I saw some big impending hand hovering over me.
At one time you could barely get a slice of pizza on Smith Street, and now it's known for its swanky restaurants and boutiques. And the real estate, well, it's the same old story. Real estate real estate, there is probably little more boring than the discussion of New York real estate, but no matter what neighborhood you're in, the discussion goes on and on. A crumbling mass on a busy corner with no outside space next to a car lot went for 1.8 million. Everyone shakes their head and wonders how long we will be able to stay here.
But I love Brooklyn, it's perfect, and, though this kind of sweeping positive statement is not really in character for me, I'd never want to live anywhere else. It's hard to imagine horses shitting the streets, ice carriages knocking by, the street lamps being lit at twilight. And yet it isn't that hard to imagine. What I love about Brooklyn ? and about the Lower East Side as well ? is that with all these changes, the bankers moving in, all the women with their rolled up yoga mats padding by, the strollers, the lounges and coffee shops and fancy restaurants, you can still see beneath that glittery veneer to what the place once was. The social clubs (My favorite local one: the Brooklyn Social on Smith Street where Ivan makes a fine Old Fashioned...) that have become hipster hangouts still have the feeling of what it once had to have been like to be a man coming in from the cold for a game of craps and a drink with friends. You can imagine the candy stores and the boys in their tilted caps waiting on the corners. Just go on any rooftop and Brooklyn has to look exactly as it once was, down to the linens and shirts and undergarments blowing on the clotheslines.
All the generations at one time in a way, that's Brooklyn. That's New York also ? but all the little anecdotes of the first Broadway theater, the first Times Square restaurant (which soon did in Madison Square Park as the place to go and be seen) disappears for me beneath the drama and scope of what's been built over it. But the grandness of Central Park, Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue, Grand Central Station still catches me. I never quite get over it. The East and West Village, the Lower East Side, these parts feel more human, despite their constant state of transition.
Back to the present, another day of rain ? so cold for August! ? another day of going to and from work, trying not to think about the Big Book Tour. I can't believe how fast time is going, that Next Week is already almost here. A mental note: don't forget to make an appointment, to makes sure none of that inevitable gray shows through...