Invasive Species (They and Me and You)

I see the way they look at me and mumble a meek “Hi” as I duck into my renovated apartment in the building we share.

After all, they were here first. They lived through the days of glass-enclosed cashiers, barren after-dark avenues and the crime that made New York notorious. My Brooklyn — its craft beer bars, wine shops and organic groceries — isn’t their Brooklyn.

I’m white. I grew up with relative privilege. I’m from something called Kansas. I’m a transplant, an occupier, an invasive species pushing rents higher, forcing hard-working natives out and bringing a distinctly bland brand of Midwestern hip to their neighborhood.

***

***

You notice the way I look at you and avert your gaze before you duck into the new condo next to my pre-war.

After all, I was here first. I was here before three more bars sprung up on Fifth Avenue, before the workers slid wide weatherproof panes of glass into the holes in your million-dollar apartment, before your private parking lot sidled up to my bedroom window.

You’re Christmas morning white. You grew up on the Upper East Side and the Hamptons and Westchester and a New England boarding school and an Ivy League university. You’re a transplant, an occupier, an invasive species pushing rents higher, forcing hard-working young professionals out and bringing a distinctly bland brand of upper-crust East Coast opulence to my neighborhood.

***

The closer we look, the less we see.


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