Juxtaposition

The Meatpacking District of my early twenties was very different than it is now. There was no Standard Hotel and the High Line was nothing but an abandoned elevated subway track. It smelled bad.

By day, the neighborhood bustled with the meat processing businesses that gave the area its name. It was a place of big trucks and burly, gruff men and sometimes, blood on sidewalks. By night, it was a darker place, both literally and figuratively. There were shadowy bars to drink in and hookers, plenty of them transvestites, lingering on sidewalks.

You can see photos of the Meatpacking District of that era here.

Back then, Hogs & Heifers was my go-to spot. I damn loved that bar and was thrilled each time I persuaded a friend to go there with me for her first visit. Each time the bouncer waved me past the line outside, I felt like a celebrity.

Inside, my friends and I drank cheap beer and threw back shots of whatever alcohol was put in our hands without worrying about roofies or worse. Every chance I got, I danced on the bar, full of drunken confidence and a fervent desire to shed the Girl From Scranton awkwardness I bore each day at my entry-level corporate job.

I felt cool for hanging out there, but realize now that to denizens of the neighborhood, my presence already signaled the beginning of the end. Gentrification had arrived.

H&H is still open. It just has different neighbors than it did during the mid-Nineties. Fancier neighbors.

I didn’t go inside the bar on the day I took this photo, knowing what I most wanted to find wouldn’t be there.

Time marches on, and so did I.

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