I am typing this by the light in the hall, because I don’t particularly wish the neighbors to know that it was I who called the authorities. We have a new manager here who is determined to clean up not only the physical property, but the quality of the residents and their friends. She gave me strict instructions when I took her the rent on Friday, that I was to call her cell phone any time I called the police. The one thing I can be sure of, is that it wasn’t the nice ladies upstairs who were yelling and cursing and honking.
Tan commented in response to my post a couple of months ago that she and Tola live only a couple of hours apart, but that Tola wouldn’t want to live where Tan lives, because it’s a bad neighborhood. Sticking my tongue so firmly in my cheek that the pressure is making it hard for me to type, I will state that I didn’t think they *allowed* bad neighborhoods in U-tahr!
And Ms. Knitingale has posted in recent months about her upbringing and roots, with her usual gimlet eye. So maybe it’s time for me to share a few of my own experiences.
I remember walking into the courthouse in Provo to get our marriage license 30 years ago this September and being appalled to see cigarette butts on the courthouse steps. I’d only been a member of the LDS church for a couple of years and was still sorting out incongruities between the principles I was learning in the scriptures and in Sunday School, and the behaviors of individual Saints. [These days I spend more time sorting out the incongruities between what I know and what I do, an ever-fruitful field of study. I’m specializing in Beam Removal and hoping for a promotion to Mote Management.]
The girls and I laugh ruefully at the evidence that, no matter where I move, the neighborhood begins to decay rapidly. Maybe it’s my breath?
For the 14 years that I’ve lived in this suburb, it’s been along an east-west thoroughfare that might as well be named “Gang Alley”. Our first apartment was squarely in the middle of it, near a school that was the poster child for perversity, not diversity. There were black gangs, Hispanic gangs, Asian gangs, and my five lily-white, excessively-outspoken daughters. Who might have been considered by some to constitute a gang of their own, with their CTR rings [Choose the Right] and their scripture totes and their singing Girls Camp songs at the drop of a hat.
After three years, we couldn’t afford the rent there, so we moved to a place that was one step up from a homeless shelter, a place for the downtrodden and demoralized, a place where they didn’t run a credit check, they ran a criminal check, and if you had a telephone *and* a checking account, you were rich. I finished up my associates degree and my marriage to the children’s father in that apartment. I had my first decently-paying job while we lived there, and I bought my first car while we lived there and I moved us out of there two and a half years after the divorce was final, about a month after Secondborn married her DH. We’d lived there a little under four years.
Firstborn’s roommate had moved out, and I was able to add-on to her lease, which saved me from four months on the waiting list. Firstborn almost immediately moved out, which left Fourthborn and LittleBit living with me. We lived there just shy of three years. The manned security post had been shut down by the new owner and management company. We were surrounded by Boombox Hell and cars with bass so loud that I hoped it rendered their inconsiderate drivers unable to reproduce their kind. Fourthborn had voted with her feet and was living with her father.
LittleBit and I moved here four years ago. Firstborn’s hubby noted that it was better to live in the worst part of a really good neighborhood than in the best part of a really bad one. I planned to stay until she graduates next spring and then move into an old house in a gentrifying neighborhood and never have to move again until they take me out feet-first. But after having hot water only five or six days last month, and my experiences of last summer, even my seemingly inexhaustible patience has run its course, and I am packing and looking, looking and packing. Fifteen boxes by the time I went to bed last night, and one Rubbermaid storage tote gone through and inventoried on my Excel spreadsheet.
After Hurricane Katrina, we had an influx of new neighbors. Who had friends. Who had other friends. During the spring and summer, we had Mardi Gras 24/7 upstairs. People coming and going at all hours, parties on the balcony, jam sessions in the kitchen, including percussion on the kitchen counters that [unsurprisingly, to me at least] percolated downstairs through the walls. Management’s response? Call 911 every time it happens, document the call with a fax to us the next morning, and when we get enough complaints we can evict them.
LittleBit’s sense of smell is more acute than mine, so she’d alert me when she smelled weed, and I’d call the cops. It almost became a routine: 6:30 on a Wednesday evening, party starting up, we’d go out to the car to take her to her mid-week activity at church, drive around the corner, she’d dial my cell phone for me and hand it to me so I could talk. Chemically unimpaired folks might have figured out that if the church ladies leave their apartment and get in the car and disappear, and the cops appear, it’s probably the church ladies who called them.
Last Friday, rowdy neighbors woke me up at 3:16am. Not fighting, for once, but two people who were drunk or high or just socially clueless. It is at moments like that when I wish there were a third switch by my kitchen door: one for the interior light, one for the porch light, and one that takes a picture of neighbors selling drugs or conversing as if it were daylight, without a big flash to wake anyone who is managing to sleep through the ruckus.
Ahhhh, it’s quiet now. I think it’s safe to fetch the canning jars from the cabinet over the refrigerator and pack another box before rustling up some breakfast. And then I can fire up the Jane Austen and my knitting needles. I had finished twelve rows of Clue 2 before going to bed last night. I don’t think I'll be taking MS3 with me to the doctor’s this morning. I don’t want to think what a local anesthetic might do to my stitch count!
- Five years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!