I’m not entirely sure why, but everything’s been so drab, lately.
The neighbours are drab. Once they all seemed young, energetic, and colourful. They wore knitted sweaters with ironic graphics, They rode bicycles with flashing lights on the spokes, lounged in sunny yards, played Sublime loudly over the din of their laughter. They drank mimosas and told hilarious stories of random encounters with homeless people. Now, though, they *are* homeless people. They trudge about with swollen ankles rolling out over their ragged tube socks. They push carts whose contents are unidentifiable and mutter obscenities to themselves. “Curb stomp that nigga”, you might hear them say. The neighbors are drab.
The cars parked on my street are drab. Once, their candy red paint jobs shimmered in the sun. Rims shone with such intensity that one had to squint and turn away. Shirtless men with hoses and buckets of soap stood bantering on the street and lazily wiping the hoods of their tiny red sports cars. Large black Escalades meandered down the streets, stopping occasionally to allow the drivers to holler at some fine-assed chola. Parking enforcement was never to be found; cars were parked haphazardly in various alluring configurations: perpendicular, parallel, diagonal. Wheels were turned away from the curb. It was a veritable sales poster of vehicles. Now, rust and tarnish have replaced the candy red paint jobs with maelstroms of vomit colouring. Groups of day labourers poke and prod under the hoods of sputtering pickup trucks in futile attempts to revive them. The street is strewn with discarded parking tickets – appropriately street cleaning parking tickets – like mounds of misshapen confetti. Meter maids with suspicious expression have replaced the meandering Escalades. The cars parked on my street are drab.
The shops in my neighbourhood are drab. Once, they offered an eclectic array of products. From tiny purple trinkets to vegan cookbooks to locally-designed women’s jewelry to artisan espresso, everything could be found in these shops. The walls outside were always magnificently decorated – either with bright, Aztec murals portraying fertility and child-birth or with wood-and-brushed-steel elegance. Now, shops only seem to sell unmarked boxes of Saran wrap and a strange collection of unwanted vegetables: rutabagas, brussel sprouts, and cabbages. Or else they are boarded up and covered in grafiti proclaiming CHEEZ as the king of this clearly unwanted locale. Stalls selling trinkets have been replaced with homeless men peddling stolen Sony Walkmen from their oversized trenchcoats. “4.50 for the lot”, you might hear them say. The shops in my neighbourhood are drab.
Or maybe nothing has changed, but this emotional numbness has drained the colour from my surroundings.