I used to live in a big house. With lots of stuff and things. Actually, I’ve lived in all kinds of big and small houses. Every time I get to a super nice big one with lots of shit, a general medley of all of my life choices knocks me back down to a small one, small enough to have to get rid of all the shit I thought I needed for the big one. Right now I’m in a small one, in an area of town I never thought I’d live. Around here, there are sometimes gunshots. The homeless travel the main road just one block away. But mostly, there are many low-income families who are trying really hard to get along. Many of the houses on my street have dirt yards and lots of cars in the driveways. It’s bulk trash week this week and so my street is lined with dirty busted up toys, old and stained furniture, mattresses, kiddy pools, stumps and brush and broken toilets, all piled high at the curbsides. Some houses have been renovated and I can tell when I walk by them every day, that instead of a total overhaul, (no scrape-and-build mini mansions here) they work on just one thing at a time; a fence repair here, a new pot of flowers there, paint over there. Ferrell cats are everywhere. I tried to name them but after the 13th cat I gave up and just started calling them by their color and number. “Gray Cat Number 3.”
Here is what’s different about this neighborhood. People sit out in their yards in threadbare lawn chairs and talk and laugh and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon from a 24 ounce can. When I leave my house, Robert, the old man with no teeth and a leathery face who is always rounding up his cats, “Pierre!… ChaCha!… Carmen!… Puddin’ Pop!…” opens and closes my non-functioning electric gate for me so I don’t have to get out of my car. Judy, from across the street, brings my kids fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Some people sit out in their cars and get high and throw their trash out the window, but then others come along with trash bags and pick it up. Little libraries dot the neighborhood, with broken down old books replenishing them each week. Roses miraculously grow up electric poles. And on the hour, three houses down, I can watch the firemen at Station Number 26 open the garage doors, pile in the trucks, turn on the sirens and head out to rescue.
I like it. That’s all. It’s not physically quiet, but it’s… emotionally quiet because there’s, well, less of what I don’t need and seemingly more to appreciate. The eccentricities, the irregularities, the perfection in the imperfection. There’s a freedom in not having to have or want everything perfect, to dwell peacefully in the imperfection. I have weeds all over my empty flowerbeds, growing between the old rocks because no bed liner was ever put down. It’s okay. I’m letting them grow. The back door doesn’t lock, but somehow I don’t worry. Robert and Judy are always watching. Before I might have panicked, fixing and perfecting everything. But today, I’m okay with it as is. Is this me maturing and evolving? I guess I’ll just keep going. 🪶