Alone in the Hood or Gussying Up the Ghetto

I had another coworker today ask me which part of town I was living. When I told them where I live, they made “the face” I have seen several times when giving this answer. Yes. I am living in the outskirts of the hood. My immediate neighbors are nice. No. I have not had any issues, other than the brief rodent ones and bugs, oh and cleaning and painting (I am exhausted and no hope of finishing soon to my standards, but it is livable.) I do not plan on living here forever. No I can’t move. I am broke. Moving costs money I don’t have at the moment. I would need deposits again, moving vans and favors that I have cashed in. I am not fearful here and this older house is just old. It is relatively solid, sturdy, and in my budget price. It just needed a lot of cleaning and painting, which I knew when I chose it. I, however, was not expecting mass quantity of both of those or the cabinets being basically unusable. (They really should be ripped out and replaced, but I’m dealing with it by just not using them.)

So I just pray everyday and deadbolt the doors. God will show me a way and open a window when He is ready. In the meantime, I am doing what I can with what I have in front of me. I remember to thank the Lord for my roof over my head, electricity, running plumbing with hot water, food to eat, my health, my children’s and family’s health, employment in only ONE job, a good & efficient vehicle, and my little furry companion (my dog) which gives me comfort on the lonely days.

I have said before that I am not designed for living alone. Some people are, but not me. I grew up with 3 siblings and sharing a bed with my sister. The house was always noisy, waiting for the bathroom, and fighting for the TV, which is why I read a lot. Then I went to college with a room mate in the sorority house for two years before leaving to marry.  But I also know the torture of living with the wrong person and choosing someone just because I am lonely or afraid. So is the Lord is truly trying to make me stronger or am I on the wrong path? I am reminded to do the best I can with what is in front of me. But the silence sometimes is too much. I find myself talking to the dog and becoming the crazy lady that talks to her self and the squirrels in the trees when I am outside. I love my new job but I question if the move here is worth all this.

I have always been a person with a goal, a dream, a hope for the future, a list maker with a vision. At the moment, I have no vision for the long-term future other than my immediate days. I have employment in the morning. I tend to work late during the week because I have only cleaning, painting and the dog at home. I like the work, so I don’t mind engulfing myself in it. Tomorrow after work, I will drive the hour to pick up my son for the weekend and hope that my daughters might choose to spend a little of their teenage weekend time with me. Then return him on Sunday evening to his father to start another routine week. If I felt I was in a holding pattern before, I am definitely in a different one now.

I laugh because I can see the growth in me that God is doing. I was one year at Nana’s after the separation with my 2nd husband. I needed her, and that time to heal. I cried myself to sleep often and I waited for him to change his mind. He didn’t. I was emotionally broken. I worked temp jobs where one let me go after a week stating there was a “conflict of personality.” I felt rejected on many levels. I tried dating, much too early, but we all make mistakes. I got played by someone who publicly humiliated me to try and get back with an ex.  I was like a tiny seed in a pot. I wanted to pull the ground up over my head and just feel the sun for some happiness.  I found permanent employment. Then another that was better.  After that year I had wore out my welcome and God made a way for me to get my own apartment. God transplanted me from the little seedling into a different pot to grow some more. It was tiny, but it was all mine. I struggled, whined to God, prayed. I worked two jobs. I was exhausted, frustrated, scared some days, ok most days. But I was on my own two feet. Then I started to plan for the future. I knew I would burn out working the two jobs. I started looking for one big job to replace the two and started working on a plan for my debts.

At the same time the lease was up on my apartment, I was offered my current position an hour away. My oldest was here in this town for her freshman year in college. It seemed like a God send, like God pulling to move me in this direction. I had to move anyway or renew my apartment lease. So I moved the hour away and took this position. At the time of the move, many rentals were not available, it being a university town and the school year still going. This little house was in my price range and available at the right time. I took a friend to see it with me. We looked at the sleepy neighborhood and the manicured lawns of older houses that sat around this one. I knew the house needed cleaning and painting. If he dropped the price, I would agree to paint if he bought the paint and supplies. He agreed. I didn’t know it had been previously heavily infested and still had mice and a few bugs. (Who looks behind the door hinges and on tops of closet shelves for bug evidence? Well I will in the future.) The landlord bought a new refrigerator, mows the lawn, replaced the floor in the bathroom and laundry room, bought paint and supplies, paid a professional bug man, and fixed the oven. (I probably forgot something. He has been very accommodating and even humored me that the oven was “smoking” when it was just burning something off after he replaced the element.)

All that said, two blocks down this street is the straight up “hood”. I have seen “deals” going down in the street on the way to and from. I try not to make eye contact and remember to drive a different direction during that time of the day. On the night I moved in, the police cruised up and down the street every 30 minutes. There was a shooting, I am told, a few months ago in this area. But in fairness, shootings can happen anywhere. We had shootings when we lived out in the country. This past fourth of July, the neighbors here were shooting off fireworks. My 9 year old son didn’t flinch that he thought they were shooting off guns. He has lived in the country so long where hunters often fire their guns in target practice or squirrel hunting. This was a normal sound for him. A friend came by and said that it was in fact shotgun fire and not fireworks we were hearing on that day. So my son was probably correct.

All that said, I actually do not feel fear here, but I am careful just the same. I have an alarm system that is on the house and new deadbolts, care of the nice landlord, who is grateful that I am an awesome cleaner and painter. I hug my dog and know that this new “pot” God has planted me in will not be my final bed of growth for this flower. Even though I am currently in a new holding pattern, sometimes God puts us in a place to grow before moving us again to bigger and better beds. God knows my needs. He is my protection and sends me comfort, sun and nourishment when I need it. I am not afraid to know that when and if He decides to transplant me again, He will provide the way and the means. While I might be lonely in the hood, I have the comfort that as a child of the Lord, I am never truly alone.

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