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You have that great yard, don’t you? Man, it’s in such meticulous condition. And that big ass grill, with multiple racks and ranges for cooking different foods at different temperatures. You have that pool. That fence. That dog.

What a good boy.

You have space. Space to move freely. Space to think. Multiple rooms for watching TV. In case you want space. In case you have a fight, probably about whoever didn’t leave the yard in meticulous condition.

You probably have enough indoor space to do cartwheels.

Your old luggage isn’t carelessly on display in the corner of your main living room, stuffed full of the things that have no actual place in your actual place. The old things you can’t bring yourself to throw away. High school yearbooks, marathon medals, ratty stuffed animals. You keep that stuff in your closets. Your attic. Your basement.

Must be nice.

In your garage you keep your two cars, your spare fridge, your generator, your home improvement tools. Everything has a backup. You always have a plan.

It sounds lovely. Truly.

I live here.

Here, where buildings cannibalize each other. Where charming little neighborhoods get flipped, changed, gentrified, modernized, and exploited. The never-ending process of metamorphosis, from little caterpillars into butterflies. Into moths.

Here, where neighborhoods are up, up-and-coming, and come-and-gone. Here, where the fine arts are damn expensive and the free arts are damn fine. Where culture spreads like a virus, mutates, grows into an epidemic. Where no one is immune.

Here, where the cuisine is an unpronounceable mezcla of curry and cumin and za’atar and turmeric and ketchup and bacon and oil. Where spice is the spice of life. From farm to table. From a food truck. From a hole in the wall.

Here, where there are bars outside my window. The kind with food and drink and merriment. The kind with locks and metal and protection. Local bars to draw the good spirits in. Steel bars to keep the bad spirits out.

Here, where there are people. So many fucking people. We live on top of each other, stacked in boxes, pressed together in rows on rows on rows. Little shipping containers filled with goods from all over the world. A distribution center on a grid of lights and movement. Chaos turned into normalcy.

Here, where you are surrounded on all sides. A person among people. The same and unique. Struggling to find your people, yourself, your place in it all. Here, where you can’t go anywhere and be alone. Here, where you can go anywhere and know no one.

Here, where the nouveau riche and the D.I.N.K.s and the hipsters mingle or don’t with the lifers and the locals and the long-timers. Where cultures collide for better and worse. Where you’re rooting for and against gentrification because you can’t tell if the pros and cons are the same damn thing. Here where it is black or white, but also not black or white, but also black and white. Here, where it’s complicated.

Here, where the fortunate people are everywhere, making you feel uncomfortable for how little you have. Where they’re composed and refined. With their gender-neutral suits and gender-neutral manicures and gender-neutral hair. Here, where they’re worldly and informed and holding out their money for beer cups.

Here, where the unfortunate people are everywhere, making you uncomfortable for how much you have. Where they’re decomposed and unrefined. With their urine-stained clothes and urine-stained bedding and urine-stained hair. Here, where they’re sick and disabled and holding out their cups for beer money.

Here, where no one ever shuts the fuck up. Where “white noise” is a more colorful mix of trucks and ambulances and pontificating hippies and rambling hobos and skateboards and car stereos. Where cacophony is harmony. Where sirens are the precursor to salvation. Where silence is the precursor to Armageddon.

Here, where everything is hardened into concrete. The buildings, the sidewalks, the streets, the people.

I live here.

Where it’s overpriced and overcrowded.
Where it’s cruel and unusual.
Where I am transient and anonymous and meaningless.
Where I am awake. Heart-pounding. Alive as fuck.

Kelaine Conochan

The editor-in-chief of this magazine, who should, in all honesty, be a gym teacher. Don’t sleep on your plucky kid sister.

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