There goes the neighborhood


I am, as everyone knows, not so good with change*. I have not the slightest doubt that I would have a better life if I regarded change as an exciting development or, at the very least, as the natural order of things, but I tend to regard it as scary or sad. Silly, but there it is.

In my neighborhood, various things come and go, but the first closure to really make an impression on me was the hardware store. There is something about a hardware store that lends legitimacy to a neighborhood. My hardware needs are few, but it was a very nice little hardware store, where they had once done me a kindness, and I was (and continue to be) sorry to see it go.

There are other things that hold on through very mysterious means. Sorcery maybe. For years, every time I walked by this 1970s style stained glass shop on the corner, I wondered how on earth it could still be open, until, one day, it wasn't.  That was a little bittersweet.  On the one hand, it provided a sort of punch line to a secret joke, but it had been there for decades and I did feel a little pang of regret for whoever had opened it, condemned to see their passion for stained glass be shared by fewer and fewer and fewer people, until there were so few customers they had to throw in the towel. Also, whatever did they do with all the leftover stock?  Does someone just have an insanely multicolored living room now?

Today as I passed its papered windows, smiling ruefully at the old secret joke (Q: how can they stay open? A: they can't), I happened to look across the street and I stopped dead.  Whaaaaa?

The toy store is empty.  I somehow had failed to notice.

Now, while I may be a little snide about stained glass window hangings, I am pretty serious about toy stores. I've been pausing at those picture windows for years, seeing what the stuffed tigers and knights and dollhouse families were up to and now they've all decamped and I never even said goodbye.  Oof.  If a neighborhood of wealthy people, where it is practically decreed that you have a baby (I'm not doing it. Don't tell), cannot keep an independent toy store afloat, then where I are we? 

In joyless, toyless houses where the windows allow the passing of boring light-colored light, which is just as well, because even if we had a nice egret-in-the-marsh-at-sunset stained glass window hangings, we wouldn't be able to get the necessary hardware to hang them. That's where.  Ah, San Francisco, and your insane rents, you're chipping away at my spirit.

In three days, the soap shop that keeps me stocked in Pre de Provence is shutting its doors. I bought a couple of extra bars to tide me over for a while, but my future looks, well, dirty, really, if you must know. On the bright side, that weird shop that sells, as far as I can tell, pajamas and novelty chocolate? Yeah. That one's still going strong, but you might want to hurry. Just in case.




*Exceptions will be made for the departure of the upstairs neighbors, not that they have any plans to move, I'm just saying that I would be willing to greet that change with nothing but joy. If that helps.