This is my house. Well, this is the house I live in. You see, I rent an apartment on the second floor just inside that door and up the stairs. It's a pretty great apartment even if it doesn't get many hours of sunlight.
Renting is limbo. It's a big plant in a too shallow pot. You put down some roots, but mostly you hover, you squat legally, you lick a finger for the changing winds.
This is my first apartment living solo. It felt like the right time, and the right place fell into my lap next to the apartment of a friend and renting from another. The houses I've lived in have been great, and the people I've lived with have made them so like good roommates should. One thing that's been lacking from those experiences may seem obvious, but now that I'm doing this solo renting thing I see its value: ownership. Maybe it's because I chose this place out of my sole volition and free of other opinions to consider. I imagine homeowners have a greater sense of this, but in my place I feel for the first time that this is my house and my neighborhood.
This all stirs up a most basic desire of mine: to know and be known to fellow humans. As I wrote back in October, I'm reaching out for the first time into the lives I see around me. This is my street now. That is my alley and those kids are still there. They skate, they shoot imagined guns, they run over and ask/say: "Hey! That's your bike!?" "Yes, it still is!" I say only the first part. A recent interaction with them occasioned a meeting of more adults.
"Do you have any boards to skate over?" said Sergio.
"You mean to ollie up onto?"
"No, we need to build a ramp!"
I didn't think I had anything sturdy enough for anything like that. Plus, these kids don't wear helmets, and so at the risk of being seen as too adult I chose to not have any boards that would work for them instead of tell them again that they need helmets.
"Is this your bike?" said a different kid, motioning to the alley.
I walked there and found a bike wedged between my garage and the fence behind it. It was about the right size for a kid of ten years, which I estimated this boy to be. As I was explaining that I didn't know where it came from I heard a familiar sound: a man hollering.
He yells a lot, this man. I hear it through my open windows that look out over his backyard. I heard it in winter sometimes through his closed windows as I walked to the garage.
(imagine growling at high volume)
"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU KIDS? HEY GET OVER HERE NOW!"