Thank God that we have reached the end of a very long and arduous week in the salt mine (aka: the big building with lots of books and lots of teenagers making lots of noise). This week was worse than usual because two members of the staff of the big building were off at a conference for most of the week. To make matters worse, our Frosh have the first part of a major research project due next week so we have been overrun by young people seeking to sip from the fountain of knowledge … Okay, so maybe that might be a stretch, but even if the bottom line is that they just wanted find the stuff for their assignment and be done with it before the weekend, it meant that we were freakin' busy in the big building this week!!!
Anyway … As I pulled into the driveway of my building and dragged my tired, grumpy ass up the front steps of the building I ran into two little boys and a little girl who are members of the growing gaggle of little kids that live in my building. Since they learned that I am originally from Hawaii, whenever they see me they've taken to screaming "ALOHA!!! ALOHA!!! ALOHA!!!" at the very top of their lungs. Believe me, staying grumpy when you have three pre-schoolers greeting you with "ALOHAs" takes more effort than even I am willing to exert. Let me tell you, it is a really nice thing to come home to!
That got me thinking about my building as a whole, though. Some of my friends marvel at the fact that I live, "In the 'hood." Believe me, I DO NOT live in the 'hood! It is probably accurate to say that I live "adjacent" to the 'hood, but to be fair, my building is also equidistant from a neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes in the other direction …). I suspect that my friends who make observations like this are really saying, "Gee … There are people in your neighborhood besides Whites and Asians …" (I don't unnecessarily like or agree with the assumptions that I suspect are beneath their seemingly harmless statements, but as they're my friends I love them anyway … and hope that they'll get it some day …).
Here's what I love about my building:
- Our new building managers have planted some white rose bushes outside the front door. It is amazing how happy it can make you to come and walk past a few blooming roses.
- I live with lots of happy young families that have lots of birthday parties–Candles on cakes that are decorated with cartoon characters drawn in mounds of frosting … What's not to like about that!!!
- Watching kids grow up and thrive:
- S. was a toddler when I moved in and now she is a top student in a magnet middle school who always has her nose in a book. She is absolutely perfectly bi-lingual and she is trustworthy enough for us to ask her to collect our mail over the summer and forward the bills!!!
- S's little sister, J. who is off the charts gregarious and who is giving her parents fits because she REFUSES to speak Spanish at all!!! She's got a mind of her own and she doesn't hesitate to use it!!!
- J. who is the oldest of the "ALOHA!" crew. He's now in kindergarten and the other day I heard him lovingly tell his younger brother and sister, "You guys are retarded!!!" You gotta love a kid who'll call it like he sees it. Like S., J. is also bi-lingual and has fantastic manners. He will run to hold a door open for other residents and greets all of us in the building every time.
- J's younger brother (I don't know his name) also has great manners and yells "ALOHA!" the loudest of the bunch.
- J's younger sister (Don't know her name either) who is a bit of a pistol and who definitely holds her own with the testosterone contingent.
- D. who is a bit older and in the 9th grade. D. has gone through some rough patches with his mom and was showing some signs of becoming a rather angry young man, but recently signs of the sweet elementary aged kid that was here when I moved in a while ago seem to be re-emerging from under the veneer of tough angry teenage guy.
- Other D. who is a 10th grader is a great kid with great manners. Apparently, other D. has become quite popular with the young ladies who ride his school bus. I know this because groups of 3 or 4 of them at a time will stand at the intercom at the front door and buzz his mom's apartment. We're hoping that he's heard about the concept of birth control (or abstinence …), but … that's not my business … I'm just saying …
There are others, but you get the idea. It has truly become a cool place to live. Objectively, it is a lower middle class/working poor building, but above all it is a really happy place to live. It's also in a great location and rent controlled so what more could you ask? Finally, being that it is a lower middle class neighborhood, there isn't much in the way of "landscaping." While this sometimes can be a bummer, when there are wild fires raging throughout Southern California, all that concrete certainly makes for a lot of what firefighters here call "defensible space" around our building so I guess sometimes there really is a silver lining among those black clouds …