Summer night sights and sounds in East Oakland

An abandoned couch in East Oakland. (Brandy Collins)
An abandoned couch in East Oakland. (Brandy Collins)

See and hear what Oakland Voices correspondent Brandy Collins observed in her neighborhood.

In the distance I hear fireworks. Starting at dusk, they ring out. I can tell the difference now between the fireworks versus the pop of a gunshot. Then, from my living room window, I see the night sky sprinkled in pink and green. Farther east is another crackle sounding off. Sometimes on a clear night, after Oakland A’s games, I can see fireworks through the trees, toward the east. Who knew you could see them all the way from Lake Merritt. 

As I look out my Cleveland Heights window, I see my neighbor on his porch barefoot, smoking his nightly cigarette with a cup of tea. No phone, no book. Just the tea and a cigarette hearing the inconsistent pop we have come accustomed to. What I’m not accustomed to is the small dog barking. Where did this dog come from? I decided to go for a small walk. It’s already dark. The street lights are on but the streets are darkened by the heavy and thick leaved trees lining the streets. One tree is high and growing around the power lines. On the other side of the street, a large palm leaf had fallen across the lines. It’s been there for weeks. 

Theres’ no wind, but the air is surprisingly cool against my cheek. Summer’s swelter hasn’t taken a full hold. She’s coming though. The high sun and waves of heat in the daytime tell me so. I can smell the lingering cigarette from my neighbors.

A car has serpentined around the block for the third time, slowing to see if the five feet ahead is a driveway or a parking space. There’s never any parking anymore. Even people who have driveways don’t use them. The driver takes a left down 22nd Street this time. Maybe better luck is down there. I walk towards Champa Gardens. I muse that I haven’t eaten there in a while. But from the looks of the large group of people standing outside waiting for a table, I remember why. It’s only a few blocks away, however, it’s not worth waiting an hour for a meal. 

I like looking into the liquor store across the street, at his turtles and the same woman’s picture for at least 10 of the 30 or so scratcher winning tickets from five year ago. Judging by the sun fading on the pictures, no one has won any lotto tickets since her. I trudged back up the hill. On the corner is a dirty once-beige Ikea couch. Someone spray painted “Stop dumping” onto it. 

The fireworks have subsided for now, but that small dog’s bark is going strong. Seriously, when did this dog get here?

UPDATE: Photo added May 30, 2020.

Author Profile

Brandy Collins is a writer and public services advocate born and raised in the Bay Area. She is a 2019-2020 cohort graduate from the Maynard Institute for Journalism, a correspondent for Oakland Voices, a blogger and the funny one in numerous group chats. She is concerned with civic engagement and leadership development toward making public works more efficient for the people. Brandy is full of Scorpio magic and self-proclaimed Professional Aunty. Follow her on Twitter @msbrandycollins or Instagram @story_soul_collecter.

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