Brains and Houses
I was haunted.
Losing my mind, sleep deprivation, fainting spells, neurons firing odd, neuropathy in the extremities, hearing things, straight up losing my mind. I was going blind in one eye, which happened once during pregnancy due to blood flow but not before or after, and my tinnitus was so severe I felt like I was standing under major power lines at all times.
Medical science had little to offer me. Given an MRI, came back clean. Awesome, except still didn’t know what was wrong.
My grandmother-in-law said I brought back something from Panama, though it started before going. Abuelita (Ita, as Vivian calls her) is old school Native American/Spanish, but damned if Vivian didn’t suddenly have a new imaginary friend.
So less than six months after purchasing and moving into a house, I was ready to walk. Didn’t care if we lost on it, I needed out.
It wasn’t just about my mental state. Though my mental state could have been self-created due to my complete discomfort and extreme stress at work.
For the entire time I had lived in Denver, I hadn’t lived further than a 15 block radius. And I loved where we were. Five minutes from downtown, readily available public transit, walk to parks and the longer I was there the more markets and shops were available.
My mom thought I was crrrraaaazzzzyyyyy.
At least when I was renting on the North side of the main street, I was near a synagogue and the Hasidic community kept it pretty low key.
I move eight blocks away, the other side of the main street, and suddenly I am in the barrio. Cholos working on their cars and having “yard sales” of football jerseys several times a week. Rottweilers behind fences, and a hybrid church having services at 2 am. The kicker for my mom was Denver Housing Authority located not even a block away.
I was good with it.
Two reasons why. First, I lived in the neighborhood for years and witnessed changes. Lightrail was going in just a couple blocks south, opening the entire corridor to young, educated, well paid individuals who work downtown.
Sucky thing about public transit. It goes in to help those who do not have transportation. However, the result is to push those same individuals further out of the urban area where there is no public transit as the section of town becomes gentrified by professionals wanting to live near downtown.
At least in Denver. Read a study on it, and watched it happen in real life. Unintended consequences of ideological intent.
But from my perspective, first home purchase needed to be a financial investment. I was heavily laden with student loans and both of us worked for a big box retailer not making much more than poverty. We bought in where we could afford, with me seeing all the signs of having a decent return within five years.
In case you were wondering, and even if you weren’t, I was reared by two very left brained business and accountant minded individuals. Financial brains are apparently genetic. Or nurture. But that is a different discussion.
Second, the house was my ideal, albeit a slight compromise due to being half a duplex. A 1923 Craftsman bungalow with all the original details intact, like bookcases around the coal fireplace and trim around windows and doors, plus a finished basement with a lowered floor as a modern living room.
Living there was a labor of love, redoing the kitchen and making the house a work of art. And yes, I had our return in less than my goal of 5 years.
The neighborhood started turning early. For about 8 months I watched the neighborhood, the investors come through, the sales prices. And in true me fashion, I said out of the blue it’s time to sell.
So we sold. In a sellers market.
Which was great except when it came time to buy. Our agent wasn’t great, she let me lead, which wasn’t smart because I was emotional about being homeless with a toddler and I was leaving a home I designed and loved and couldn’t afford the same neighborhood any longer and….
So we ended up on the other side of town. Still in the city of Denver, not in urban Denver. Me and suburbs, no bueno.
Should have known the first night I wouldn’t make it. It was too damn quiet. Like seriously, quiet! And we weren’t even in a good part of the suburbs, because there is always the part of me that sees potential and refuses to pay top in an already awesome neighborhood when I can live in a not awesome neighborhood and get more for my money.
Plus people who live in ideal neighborhoods are not my ideal neighbors. They are pretentious and ridiculous and bore me beyond tears.
In fact, a running joke with my previous co-workers is I like my neighborhoods rough. I never had any problems, all the violence in my life came from people I knew.
Beyond not being able to see the skyline, and having to drive 20 minutes to downtown, and living in an area where the oldest house was 1950’s ranch, and having to drive the industrial corridor, and… I missed my old neighborhood.
Sounds of trains and freeways, ghetto birds (a.k.a. police helicopters), and yes there were guns. Though it was usually a shotgun in the air during a party.
We did find some suspicious bones in the back yard when planting a garden. The area had a much rougher past than when we lived there. No questions, no answers, leave the past where it lies.
But the new neighborhood was different. Eerily quiet, with cameras on the streets watching everything, a sense of something about to break at any minute. And gun violence, like drive by shooting at houses gun violence.
Guns in themselves don’t bother me, but it was sense of fear and apprehension. People were violent in both neighborhoods, but in the second neighborhood people were afraid of authority as much as anyone else.
In our old neighborhood, make eye contact, be friendly, don’t get in their business and they don’t get in yours.
So regardless the physical insanity descending upon me, I needed to move. And we did. Like I said, we couldn’t afford our old neighborhood so we moved a bit north. Oddly enough, closer to downtown and in an even more ideal house.
My kind of neighborhood. Still rough, definitely not an easy past, though changing quickly. Haven’t heard the ghetto birds as much, and only shotguns were on 4th of July. Unfortunately a lot of the neighbors are already insufferable, but I don’t exactly take cookies to every door so who cares.
No strange medical symptoms, never found out what was wrong, and Vivian is back to her hands and feet being her imaginary friends.
I’m going to pretend that’s normal until told otherwise.
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