Visiting My Old Neighborhood

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I found myself out to my sister’s house this week doing some additions and remodeling on a 127 year old house. Nothing big, but big for my 69 year old dad and me. First on that list was replacing the original 67 foot wide covered porch which recently had a tree crash through it, destroying 80% of it. They all did demo last week, then we built it this week. It will be roofed next week when the entire house gets a shiny new metal roof. This house is proof that you can polish a turd to shine like gold.

Anyway, while out at her house I decided to drop in on an old friend from high school. He still lives in his mother’s house in our old neighborhood we grew up in. We had the first two houses built in this development in 1973, we watched the whole neighborhood being built. I haven’t been to his house since going to his mother’s funeral in 2000. As I will explain, much has changed in the old neighborhood in the last 15 years. I also wanted to see the house I grew up in which was three houses down. My parents moved out in 2000 as well, so I really had little reason to go back. As I found out, going after dark was a rather large mistake on my part, the neighborhood has been through some very disturbing changes. Let’s just start with my old family house, which is nothing more than a foundation, debris, and trash. Seems it burnt to the ground about three weeks ago after the meth lab blew up that was in the garage. I called my parents, who are still in disbelief, who drove out today during daylight hours to look at it. When I finally made it to my friends house it was like visiting one of the wards in downtown Houston. There were iron bars on all the windows, the garage doors, and all the doors had heavy duty iron security gates in place. I’m guessing at this time the old neighborhood is not super safe any longer.

I had it explained to me that the last several years there have been really negative changes. The older people were moving out and there houses were turned into rent houses. I’m not saying that created the problem but it did accelerate the problem. Out of 156 homes in the neighborhood, only 4 of them are owned or have a mortgage, my friend owning the one he lives in. I won’t get all stereotypical on y’all since you’re already doing it in your minds for me. And I’m not being racist, there seems to be equal shares of everyone, in fact the clowns that burnt our house to the ground were white, well white trash. It’s a shame to see a neighborhood go this direction in any regards, but we all know it does happen everywhere, even out in little hick towns in southeast Texas. Blaming someone or something is pointless since it is pure economics. Unfortunately in big cities and little towns the low rent houses tend bring in a culture of people that others tend to move away from, that’s if they can, many can’t and they are just consumed by the negative changes happening around them. I’m no sociologist, but I know that the money in your pocket usually determines your living conditions. I am going to end my opinion right there.

I recall hearing on the news a few weeks ago about a meth house burning down in my old little town but missed where it was exactly and dismissed altogether since news in the Houston area every day is full of the same shit, shootings, arson, safe houses, trafficking, car chases, robberies, and so forth. But damn, meth heads blew up our old house. Needless to say, I didn’t visit with my friend very long because I didn’t want to be there to late. I did ask about his heightened security and he told me after two break ins where they stole things easily pawned that he had two choices, stay and fight or move away, he says there are no plans to move.

In the end, its very disappointing to see these now 40 year old houses laying waste in decay, abandoned, burnt out, and boarded up. I’m not trying to be dramatic about it, I know things change, but that shouldn’t mean it all has to go straight to hell. Or does it? Again, yes I know, it comes down to money and economics, plus the right conditions be set in motion, and so forth. If I may be a little nostalgic, I remember the days before the internet and xboxs, riding my bike everywhere with my friends, and seeing the street lights coming on meant get your ass home. As kids we lived outside, we liked the outside, we cherished our time outside, and I can’t recall never being struck with the dilemma of having nothing to do. It was a simpler time back then, a time we never get to go back to, and now all I have are the fond memories of growing up in a great house in a great neighborhood, all of this, of course, before the meth heads blew it all to fuck and back. Okay, I’m done sharing, get back to your lives.