Today, an overly peppy, overly hands-on owner of an independent coffeehouse in Montreal (where I’m on a self-created urban writer’s retreat) chatted me up while he made me an espresso. I found out that he “lives” here for about two months or so each summer, but makes home in Washington. “I could never do a cool place like this in DC. Too expensive.”
At once point he asked me, “Where do you usually live?”
“San Francisco,” I replied.
“What neighborhood?” he eagerly asked.
“The Mission. Or at least until I’m evicted, like everyone else I know,” I said nonchalantly, hoping to draw him out. “The Mission.”
His face lit up. “I have a good friend who lives in the Mission. I love Four Barrel Coffee! It’s an inspiration.”
Then he noted, as if he’d suddenly heard the part about evictions, “Yeah, my friend told me it’s really hard to stay in the Mission these days. His rent just got increased from $5,000 to $8,000 a month.”
Yet again, I’m pretty sure that I live in an altogether-different universe — until I get evicted from there, too, that is.
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(Photo by Cindy Milstein, “prototype” temporary art-exhibit-as-recuperation/gentrification, Market Street, San Francisco, April 2015.)