I live in an old neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks. That phrase, wrong side of the tracks, annoys me because what's wrong for one is right for someone else, but you get the idea. I bought the home after my divorce. I was single, raising three children on my own, when I got approved for financing. I was ecstatic. I was only approved for a small amount which lead me to Highland. Old homes and diverse culture. I found this little house that I could afford and that was perfect for my family. I loved it...still do. It was picture perfect when I moved in but over the past 6 years, it's really started to fall apart. The house was built in 1947. We've finally started to fix it up this past week, which you'll read about in a bit.
What gets me though is that my girls are embarassed at times of where we live. Most of their friends live in nice neighborhoods on the right side of the tracks. Their friends drive Range Rovers and Hummers and have golf courses in their backyards. The girls tell me that most of their friends' parents won't let their kids come over to our house because of where we live. How ignorant. They don't even know me. I mean really? Have we become that shallow? That close minded? That judgmental?
As I write this, I realize I'm just as guilty sometimes. About a year ago, my husband installed an alarm system in a house a few blocks from here. The couple had recently moved here from California and were remodeling an old, two-story house. One day, Robert came home and told me he was going to help them on his Saturdays off, with the remodeling. Now, Robert does a lot of side work in addition to his 9 to 5, so my first response was, "Great. Extra money!" He just kind of looked at me sheepishly and said, "I'm not doing it for money. I just want to help, they're really nice people. And when I get ready to start the work on our house, Andre (the husband) says he'll help me." I'll be honest, Robert is way more trusting and giving than I am and I thought that he would spend all of his free Saturdays working for nothing, and then when the time came, he'd be working on our house all alone. I said nothing, though.
I was wrong.
This is what has been happening at my house the last couple of weeks.
This is Andre and Robert. Working side by side on this old house.
This is Larry. He's a friend of Andre's who just came along to help. We've never even met him. He just came because Andre told him they could use an extra hand.
At the end of the day, the guys came inside and we had a meal together around the dining room table of crawfish etouffee, hushpuppies and sweet tea. And I felt so blessed. I felt like a part of something important. I felt connected to this life. I felt like this day, these friends, this old house, this meal, was what it's all about. It's why we're here.
And just like that, my faith and hope in people and community has been restored.