Friday, May 7, 2010

Close Your Eyes

Last night I dreamed that I was riding my bike due west of our house, on a block that in real life is pretty volatile. Gang activity, drug dealing, a handful of foreclosures. Not an easy place to be.

In my dream, the street was filled with fly-by-night businesses. A cell phone store here. A tire repair there. A liquor store, an electronics shop, a handful of t-shirt places, clearly fronts for something else. But as I turned the corner I caught a glimpse of something called the L*M*N Bakery.

Nah, I thought. Impossible. But it nagged at me. So I walked my bike back to the same little stretch. Along the way I passed a record store specializing in vinyl records, with a bunch of rare finds in the window. Well, well, well, I thought. Where did you come from?

Back on the original block, so bustling with business I was amazed to have missed it in the first place, was an open-air fish market. The proprieters wore chefs' hats and played it like barkers, calling to the crowd and proudly holding up whole salmon and flounder shiny with seawater.

"How long have you been open?" I asked. "Since about noon," one of them said. "No . . . I mean how long have you been here in this location?" "Going on about three months," he said, then turned his head to make another sale.

Behind the fish market was a maze of other stalls, a huge food market, stretching back as far as the alley, and who knows how far beyond that.

This is the kind of dream that's probably better to have than to wake up to, the kind that makes you want to slide back into sleep. Of course I've had this very dream about my house dozens of times: the extra room you didn't know was there, snaking back to reveal something miraculous, maybe a room full of books, a beautiful antique carpet, a wine cellar, a perfect reading room.

But to have this kind of dream about my neighborhood says a lot about my sense of situatedness here. Home writ large, for me, is the neighborhood. And though it's sad to wake up and realize that no such market exists, and the little bakery selling lemon cupcakes and cardamom cookies is the stuff of my subconscious . . .

. . . [I interrupt this entry with breaking news. As I was trying to figure out that last sentence, I took a breather to read some email. There in my inbox was a forward from John, reporting that a new independent record store will open May 29 just three blocks away, adjacent to the very street I dreamed about. I swear on my mother this is how it happened] . . .

I still love the tamale carts and straw brooms and Lucha Libre masks and chiles rellenos and Negro Modelo and pinatas and karate classes, and even the communion dresses and silk flowers and awkwardly posed family portraits available just a couple of blocks away. But I admit it'll be nice to have somewhere nearby to buy John a birthday present. And if a decent bowl of soup or macaroon weren't far behind, you wouldn't find me complaining.

Of course some would say this is the slippery slope. The good macaroon means the wrestling mask and pinata will disappear altogether, or at least migrate west to Hermosa. But I think of a neighborhood like Astoria, Queens, and I know it can be done. I like the odds of my neighborhood following that example.


tracy said...

The record store! Clearly, your dreams are psychic. It *will* happen.

Carrie said...

Ooh! New record store? That would be great.

As for soup would welcome more brothy choice over here, though I have been known to rock the chicken soup at El Pacifico, especially in the winter.

Now, if only I could realize my dream of having La Luna's vacant shell morph into the coolest rock club ever, with a great kitchen as well. A girl can dream, even though mine aren't psychic.

Christy said...

Carrie, I agree with you about the caldo at El Pacifico. Perfection!

And I figured you would've heard about the record store; it's being run by Carrot Top Distribution, in the old Lohan Windows building. Pretty exciting stuff!

I have other news too, but I've been sworn to secrecy for at least a little while. Let's just say something pretty swell is going in across the street from you guys, in that vacant corner building (the one with the garage with the primitive Biblical paintings).

Diana Sudyka said...

I vote for neighborhood development that allows for Lucha Libre masks and macaroons to live in sweet harmony.