The building we live in is set back a bit from the street. Cobblestones and slate mostly cover the area set aside for a driveway, a few parking spots, and a smoking bench. A handful of squat, leafy trees flourish in the center of the lot where a metal-grated trench drain acts as a foot bridge over the soil and through the greenery. This path runs parallel to a handful of paths on a much larger scale, the Williamsburg Bridge. The trees naturally veil your approach to the entrance of the building, and breezes—ever-blowing through their leaves—cancel the noise pollution one expects such a next-door neighbor to exude.
That piece of earth sustains what’s left of the beautiful landscaping the property once boasted. We’re lucky to have the trees, and I know that. But, when you know what used to be, your appreciation for what is diminishes on a relative scale.
And so does my dog’s.
When we moved in over four years ago, the front of the building was alive. Technically, it still is, I suppose—our lobby elevators are flanked by vibrant, year-round, living-wall installations. But outside? No. Now the dirt is covered up with stones, stifling any life that might have once been able to will itself out of the ground.
Where there once were Spring flowers blooming and plants thriving through Autumn, we see grey and blue stones. Instead of hardy beach grass swaying with the wind and surrounding the trees, we have rocks as bland as the rest of the lot.
When the multitude of dogs in our building navigate the treacherous landscape, their pads slide between the smooth rocks so that their nails bend every-which-way as they do. Sure, they’ve got that high pain tolerance, but why push to the limits on something like that? Why would one test it on every single walk? Well, obviously, because their unstoppable noses draw them back to their marks and to those of all the other dogs who have been alleviating themselves in these areas over the years. But also, because this is home.
Someone made this awful decision without asking for any input from us, the many (now-angry) residents. And our poor Super has to hear it from all of us because we’ve no one else to complain to. We’re all frustrated. This isn’t the first abrupt change like this to our habitat or the rules that govern it. And it sure won’t be the last. But we’re organizing. We will not be pushed around in our own home like this. Not without our voices being heard at the very damn least.
In the meantime, I wonder where a single piece of grass came from. Only, of course, because it ended up stuck to Ozzy’s nose.
We were inside. In our apartment. Which is inside of a building that just shunned all plant life—okay, just grass and flowers. But still.
How does this little magnet do it?