For the last three days the ground had been shaking in irregular intervals, marking the onset of construction across the tracks from where I live. Like the play, “Death of a Salesmen,” gentrification has crept into my neighbourhood, slowly choking the view, sounds and peace from obscurity. As my windows rattle and the noise of the machinery sends shock-waves across the yards, the birds and squirrels are absent now.
My view of the Fraser River will be gone soon as our once prime real-estate now gives way to those who have paid a hundred times more than us to have it in their front windows. The sound the train which travels down the twin tracks almost once every hour will be much more louder as the sound now will have a multistory building to bounce off of with. I will have people gazing down at me for the first time, as opposed to me gazing down at those who walk the shores of the river.
Our era of quietness and privacy will be broken for the first time as the North side of the tracks will become the new new.
Oddly enough, the very reason why so many wish to move here, is the very thing that is leaving us at exactly same the rate. Numbers have a way of doing that. You take one, then you loose one. Very simple mathematics. It is the simplicity of the universe. There is no mystery or supernatural force, just plane and simple mathematics.
It has been three days since the vibrations of construction started on the North side of the tracks. It does not bother me, as it is all done during daylight hours, but it is a warning, a reminder that soon we too will have to uproot ourselves because the land must give way for development.
In the play, “Death of a Salesmen,” gentrification was only one piece of the message presented in that fictional story. Growing old, and loosing your usefulness as the twilight of your life approaches is perhaps the main thesis of that classic masterpiece. The home you build, out in the suburbs, then becomes the new mecca of development, but your time has run its course, and fighting it is no longer an option as the value of the home is only as good as the development that needs its space.
I have made this connection between the play, and the little town of Fort Langley before. The old must give way for the new. And like the laws of mathematics, the new will eventually out number the old, whether through attrition, multiplication or migration, the change is inevitable. The hardest part for the old is to accept the new and understand that it was once the new, as the old before it had to give way to make room for them.
The play has taught me to embrace the change rather than fighting it. I have learned never to attach myself to the land, as the land will always look after itself. Instead, I must look after myself. By the power of mathematics, so to will it play directly into my being. As the buildings become erect, and the people move into them, causation will demand that the value of the space I currently occupy must increase as well. So, then I must accept two dilemmas: First, stay and live with the new new which entails more cost for the privilege of living in my home in lieu of higher taxes and public utilities. Or, second, relocate to somewhere to the equivalent of what I have today, interfering with the same mathematical equations elsewhere. There is no irony on this ironing board!
These are my thoughts currently rattling around inside my head. Pay them no mind.