Friday, January 19, 2007

A Day in the Life

So, it seems the wife & I have survived almost nine full months in the heart of darkness, the belly of the beast, the kernel of the corn – living in the riot-scarred ghetto of Cincinnati. It has been, for lack of a more banal word, interesting. The things I thought I’d hate, or at least fear, do not even register on a daily basis; and the things that I would not have even thought about prior to the move bug me daily.

Most naturally, I suppose, I went in fairly concerned about safety. This has, thus far, turned out to be a non-issue. Granted, much of this might have been due to the police crackdown in the neighborhood following the April 2006 murder spree; or, more plausibly, it had to do with the fact that neither K. nor I buy or sell drugs, and thus aren’t worth the bullet or bludgeon of a would-be assailant. I like to tell myself that my homeless guardian crack addict played some small role, too – the very one who promised me evening that he would “kill” (his words) anybody who disrespected me, K., or “my little girl” (his designation for the dog). I don’t know about you, but I’ll gladly support somebody’s crack addiction with a dollar here and there if they promise me protection.

Speaking of crack addiction, I’m increasingly astonished at how many functional addicts there are. I knew that there one could actually live some semblance of a life addicted to heroin, alcohol, and cocaine, but for some reason I thought that with crack all bets were off. My suspicion was that what distinguished crack addiction from all the others listed is that it is primarily the poor addicted to it -- and, if nothing else, money buys functionality, whether you’re an addict or sober. Not yet sure what to think of this.

Less shocking, I suppose, is that our car has not been broken into. It helps that our little Honda is twenty years old and that I’ve wrecked it at least twice; not to mention the fact that we heeded the warning of a neighbor, who once noted that he had a roll of paper towels stolen from his car once, and have since left nothing but philosophy books in the back seat. Thus far, the only minor vandalism inflicted was that our antenna was unduly ripped off. I can deal with that, provided somebody isn’t whipping me with the antenna removed.

What has been an issue – no, the issue is the litter. I used to drive through this neighborhood all the time before living here, but seeing trash when at 30 mph is not the same as when you’re wading through it on the way home. Condoms, used or not; paper plates with pizza crust; chicken bones (it is as though my neighborhood is a fucking hen house and a fox is on the loose); piles of glass, be it that of car windows or liquor bottles. I really should just keep a daily tally of the different things I have to wrestle away from the dog. I’ll have more to say about this in coming posts, though, especially as it relates to the across-the board-decline and neglect of the living space in contemporary America (be it rural, suburban, or urban). For now, suffice it to say, a trashed environment is indicative of a deeper problem that is not endemic to ghetto life.

All in all, life hasn’t been so bad down here. I miss the two-minute walk to the only art-house theatre in town, as well as the only grocery with a decent beer & cheese selection. I miss the sense of security (which is different from the reality of safety) that I felt walking late at night in the relatively affluent neighborhood I used to live. Don't get me wrong, I’m not a martyr for moving away from all that. But, as I'll explore in my next post, I do think it was the right choice to move down here, even if I often regret the decision to do so. There are deeper implications to this admission, but it’s way too late to get into them.