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Changes in the neighborhood

A homage to my old neighborhood, Central Square in Cambridge, MA. Over three decades, a lot of stores have come and gone. This is a poem about all my old haunts. Recently, I found that although HMart has moved in, Shalimar and many other beloved ethnic stores have moved out.I used to live at the corner of Mass Ave and Prospect, living in the same building as my animator/artist friend Ian. I miss the old Cambridge so much– the little shops full of handmade crafts, the wiccan bookstore, and student art supplies at Pearl Arts and Crafts. The different stores were a little intimidating, but in a good way, in that it expanded my appreciation of different cultures and foods. Gone is the small- family run Ethiopian restaurant, the Indian grocer (Shalimar), and many others. It was so exciting, and raw to hear different languages along the street. I remember the “wizards” of wisdom sitting at the bus stops (aka, drunk homeless people) who would randomly dispense wisdom as you wait for the #1 or CT1. I never felt endangered, although friends had been “robbed” but not physically. Nowadays seem a bit more seriously dangerous, people getting a little bit more physical despite the pandemic. Anyway, things change, but here I present that old Central Square through the rosy nostalgia of youth and innocence from my college years.

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