Over the past few months, I have been slowly attempting to get to know the neighborhood of East Hollywood. On Wednesdays, I take an early morning bus from Pasadena to EH, and spend a decent amount of the day in the neighborhood – biking or walking through the commercial and residential districts and sitting in coffeeshops around the area.
I love the area. The streets, sidewalks, and shops filled with activity. Smalls markets, little restaurants, and local businesses lining the streets, often with signs in languages I cannot read. The architecture that can’t help but show its age and also its unique beauty. Little things that make me laugh – like the two dogs (one big laying down, one small standing up) tied up next to my bike outside waiting for their owner or the ‘interesting characters’ that will randomly start up a conversation with you if you make eye contact with them. Little things that make me curse – the potholes in the road that throw my bike off course, the lack of places to lock my bike up.
But, I don’t feel like it’s my neighborhood. I feel like an observer at best, and an outsider at worst. I watch the neighborhood breathe it’s breaths as I cruise down the streets on my bike, look out from the scratched windows of a bus headed back towards gentrified Pasadena, or as I sip my drink of choice from whatever Starbucks I choose to sit in.
I’m here, but I’m not. I’d like to be able to exist as part of this place, even if it’s only a day or two a week. But I’m just not sure how to do that.