My neighborhood is the kind that some outsiders might consider "sketchy". There's a mix of blue collar and white collar. There aren't very many perfectly manicured lawns. There are trash cans not brought back to the house within 2 hours of pick-up. There are no covenants dictating they have to be. There are little old ladies with ancient deck furniture on their porch; there are rental places with drive-ways and curbs full of cars; and there's even a crazy cat lady who swore her cat was abducted and murdered (he was hit on the four lane street two blocks away). It's a neighborhood full of older homes- some recently renovated, others still boasting their original pink siding.
This may seem "sketchy" to the casual observer. But if that observer were to stick around for a bit, he'd see that it is more perfect than the little boxes lined up on suburbia's streets. He'd see kids outside playing without the forced interactions of helicopter moms at the park. Kids from all different heritages playing together, playing the imaginative games of our youth. He'd hear a little blonde girl with a distinctly Southern drawl, another girl whose English is an interesting mix of that same Southern drawl and her first language (Spanish). He'd see a group of boys riding their bikes around and around the block. One African-American, one Hispanic, and one who could pass for a Beach Boy. There's the older African-American man who spends his day keeping those well-manicured lawns manicured. Another, a bit older, whose daily activity is to grab his cane and walk to the grocery store.
If the observer would stick around, I like to think he'd see a little slice of America. Not the America some would like to pretend is the real one, but actual America. One where people of various languages, different ethnicities, sexual orientations, various religions, and different incomes all live together without fear. Some nights, that observer, would even be able to smell the real America as the breeze fills with wafts of the vegan chef's kebabs melding with the aroma of tamales made fresh across the street that then dances together with the still bubbly rhubarb pie I've baked.
This is Durham. This is America. This is where I want to live.
Crossposted at Triangle Mamas, where moms get local.