Well, we’ve been together for a long time now. Years, really. And we’ve had such good times. Remember when we first met? The day I was born? You were so good to me then, and while we were friends for so long – I would come visit you, look at the water, hang out at Fairy Land, drive around with my mom – I can still remember when we first fell in love. Even though it was years ago, I still remember discovering all the strange and beautiful things that were wrapped up in your streets. Meandering around on the bus, peering out at new sites. I remember when we first started going to parties together, deep down in warehouses and drunk together as we’d roll around. So many good times, such fun. Sure, at some point it got a bit intense. And I left for a while to hang out with your older brother, San Francisco. But you know me – you were always the one who was dearest to me in my heart. So I came back. I always come back.
And we’ve been together for quite some time now. We’re both growing older, both changing. We’ve known each other for our whole lives, and now that we’re living together, paying rent and waking up in the same bed every day – I mean, I don’t know if you’ve noticed it. But I certainly have. And it’s not that I don’t love you anymore, because I will definitely always love you. But…where did the magic go, Oakland? Where are the sparks and the wonder? We don’t even have sex anymore, you and me, and on the rare occasion that we do, it’s dry and perfunctory.
Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up, and I see you there, wheezing in your sleep in the dark, and I remember how beautiful you were the first time I saw you. And I look at your face, and I see how much you’ve changed. It troubles me.
Oakland, I’m not saying we should break up. Or move apart. I mean, we have so many mutual friends – I don’t want to go through the whole dividing camps thing. But I just have to admit – maybe we should just be friends. When you fuck me, I can see that there’s no feeling in your eyes. But maybe that’s just what your eyes always look like nowadays. It’s that thing called money – it’s changed you. You’re no longer the same. And while I always wanted you to be successful, to prosper and to thrive, and what cost has it come? When I look at you, I don’t see Oakland anymore. I see some strange new beast, in nice clothes and new condos.
I mean, we all know that it’s not even that much money, but it has still managed to change you. And it’s not a small change, an isolated change. It’s a cancerous change, one that will metastatsize all over your body. Sure, there are still parts of you that are rugged and rough, untamed and wild, but how will it be before you cover up the East with the same pretty Downtown fluffiness that has gripped everything in the North, and the West, and Downtown? Sure, I know that some people say that’s impossible – the East will never fall. But I know you. I might know you better than most, since I’ve known you for so long. Oakland, you’re greedy. And, sure, that might be the essence of the capitalist spirit, but at this point I think that this greed is not for your own good. All the people who have loved you forever, who have been with you since day one, who have stood by your side through the riots and the depression and the violent nights – you’re pushing them away. There’s no more room for us anymore. Because this is what always happens – as soon as someone gets money, it’s time for new friends and forget the old.
Maybe I’m afraid that you’re going to dump me before I dump you. You’re going to push me out, kick me out, and leave me destitute. You’ll be that ex-boyfriend that was too good for me, and too good for himself. And then one day, I’ll be walking down the street, keeping to myself, and there you’ll be: wearing those nice clothes, smoking nice cigars, with a new girlfriend on your arm, and of course she’ll be white and pretty and young and have rich parents.
Oakland, I know you have all these nice, cool, new white friends. And I know that if you could have it any way, you would probably just hang out with rich white people all day long. But there’s one thing that you’ll never be able to change about yourself, Oakland, and that’s the color of your skin. At the end of the day, you’re just as dark as the rest of us. It doesn’t matter how many white bitches you fuck. You’ll never be white.
Anyways, Oakland, I love you. I always have, I always will. It doesn’t matter what happens between us. I’ll always be here for you. Even if this doesn’t work out. Even if we break up. Even if we don’t live together anymore, and I go through a short period of hating you. You’ll always be a part of me. I guess…Oakland, you’ve changed. And I don’t think you’ve changed for the better. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens next.
Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.