I recently made a joke on facebook about a house in our neighborhood that is home to several graduate students. It is easily identified by the couch in the yard, television on the porch and mailbox stuffed with frisbee golf discs. The twenty-something guys who live there always have bicycles or kayaks or some form of living life to the fullest strapped to their cars.
Someone replied to this facebook post that they are sorry, as if this house causes me strife. The people who live in that house are, like almost everyone in our neighborhood, very nice people who amuse me rather than annoy me. One person in our neighborhood is constantly burning brush in the drainage ditch. The fire department doesn’t ask to see his burn permit. Another neighbor uses fireworks to get the birds out of his vegetable garden. I’m no bird whisperer, but I don’t think birds remain bothered by fireworks for very long. I suspect that somebody just really likes playing with fireworks. In this neighborhood, it’s okay to be yourself. The fact that everyone tolerates the endless construction noise and mess at our house is the best example of a neighborhood that does not sweat the small stuff. The thing about our extremely tiny neighborhood is that it is completely surrounded by the city while we remain county. The neighborhoods around ours are filled with larger, newer and more expensive homes. Our neighborhood is symbolic of the vanishing middle class.
The people who live directly across from the graduate students work for the police department. A few doors down from them in both directions, there are homes owned by teachers. The people in our neighborhood don’t claim to be middle class while driving brand new cars and owning beach property.
Until the real estate market crashed, there was a very real concern by the homeowners in our neighborhood that parasitic developers and realtors would pay us pennies on the dollar to get out so that they could level our unique little homes filled with real people and replace them with the rubber stamp style neighborhoods and vanilla flavored people that surround us. When property stopped selling and the foreclosures began, the houses in our neighborhood started to empty. Once emptied, they stayed empty. I miss those people and what the neighborhood was before. I don’t want another soul to leave.
I wouldn’t trade those graduate students for anything.