Downtown Santa Rosa is bustling with drunken tourists and frat boys. (They’ve paid their fair share to the bars there, so they’re allowed to congregate in public after dark. Not all Santa Rosans are so lucky.) Less than two blocks away, the quiet mechanic shops, empty warehouses, paycheck advance services, unsavory motels, extremely local cell phone carriers, and tourist-unfriendly Asian markets rest in alternating yellow street lights and neon signs that perpetually read “OPEN.” Perhaps the businesses leave the signs on as a service to the community – they can get away with sharing their pretty colors in public spaces, but the artists who live in that neighborhood can’t. Run-down 30-year old cars look especially poetic in the flashing flood of lights – neon from the side and yellow from above.
Did I fall in love with this place because it’s all I had, or because it’s truly beautiful?