The International Art Museum of America has opened its doors. It is on my block, just down from cherry-red suits, long jackets and matching banded hats in the men's clothing store and the Marinello School of Beauty. Already the front windows have been tagged, etched for permanence, for a place in history.
The International Art Museum of America is Doric columns and gold leaf, a wide, shining lobby. The windows that face on the street open on a jungle scene, a Disneyland fantasy of fake moss and plastic huts, one wall covered in jungle photo wallpaper that reminds me of a neighbor's basement in Utah. The forest wallpaper behind the ping-pong table. I can see seams between the sheets of paper.
Beyond and through the jungle I glimpse more white columns and the corner of a heavy gold picture frame. Another window sends back a mirror image of me, looking through the glass, tiny and lost in a block-deep jungle.
My neighbors totter by in varying states of lucidity. A woman with ruddy cheeks jumps back visibly, shocked by the scene through the glass. She turns and I see she's only a girl, her head loose on her neck in a way I recognize, white-knuckling her way to ageless and burned out like the girl with the tattooed Raggedy-Ann face, the outline of a grin that fools you into thinking she's smiling.
Like the girl who wears the night before in the shape of a red, swollen eye. The eyeball itself looks damaged, hanging the wrong way in her face, but she greets a friend like it's nothing at all, Hey Boo, what's up, huh?
The International Art Museum of America is closed as I walk by. A neighbor from my building smiles and says Isn't it wonderful? I tell him it looks like an amusement park. He says, I don't know what it is, but I want to visit!
Is it a sign of things to come? Is money lapping at our shores, the wave rolling up from Powell, washing clean the streets? The International Art Museum of America, then Twitter, and it's only up from here, my junkie neighbors pushed out and richer, whiter people moving in.
And will rents rise so I'm pushed out with the rest? Will the line fall above or below me?
The International Art Museum of America doesn't care where my neighbors go, some other neighborhood, filthying up their sidewalks. But they're tenacious here, they've held on through more urban renewal projects than this, and they might hold on still.
A man with matted hair and one bare, filthy foot, leans in toward the "wooden" hut behind the glass. A shining line of drool hangs unbroken from his lip to the sidewalk below.