Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
Yiruma – River Flows in You
“… maybe I’m just overwhelmed with moving out but I haven’t been able to find a space to write in my room. I feel creatively suffocated in there. It’s been a blessing to stay in this house, seriously, I couldn’t have asked for more but I cannot say that I am unhappy to be leaving.”
“You don’t like this area?” She asked me as we walked past the corroded junkyard cars that were parked on the rusty gate that separates the railroad tracks from 26th Street.
“Not really.” I looked over at the bed of budding flowers that were growing in the small ally garden, which seemed to be totally out of place among the rest of the environment.
“It’s an up and coming neighborhood but sometimes it feels so trashy, particularly on this side. I never thought it was going to be like this… The neighbors are so loud when they talk outside at all times of the night with their irritating accents, some of the people walk around the streets with nothing on their feet – a true sign of how dirty they are, and the rats just up and die on your back porch for poor, for innocent dogs like Tay to sniff and get sick from. No, I do not like it. Honestly, it was my first real experience living around what my roommate and her friends refer to as ‘white trash’. When people think about Baltimore, they immediately refer to The Wire and the drug abuse and murder rate that is causing the government to cut school funding so that they can use that money to continue building more jailhouses for our people. No one shows this aspect of the city.”
Kori and I made a right on Hampden as we walked home from Terra Café on 25th and St. Paul. It was a little after eight and the sun was going down. The stench of alley cats in heat was about to be temporarily soused by the rainstorm that we could smell emerging in the air. There were a few elementary aged children, white, Black, and Black and white, tossing a football back and forth to one another. A little blonde girl, who kept pulling her denim shorts up to keep them from falling down, was throwing and catching the ball with more accuracy than the boys. She looked filthy with her bruised knees and dingy, white, no-named sneakers. She probably smelled like she looked at this point in the day but she was still very pretty, especially when she laughed, while taunting the boys every time they would incomplete one of her tosses.
Kori and I were halfway through the block when the sound of shattering glass clamored throughout the street.
“WHO THE F*CK DID THAT?!”
I looked to see where the voice was coming from. I saw the broken window but I couldn’t figure out where the shouting was coming from.
“WHO THE F*CK DID THAT?! WHO THE F*CK DID THAT?!”
In the doorway, there he stood, a stout-bellied white boy who couldn’t have been any more that seven years old, yelling at the children as if he was their father. The top of his red head barely reached his mother’s upper thigh. She stood behind him and joined in, vociferously yelling at the kids, who scattered to run into their own homes.
“WHO THE F*CK DID THAT?! I ain’t askin’ y’all lil’ f*ckers again! I hate livin’ here! I hate you stupid kids! Y’all ain’t good for sh*t! All y’all ever do is steal my sh*t or break my sh*t! F*ck that! I am calling the cops on y’all’s little dumb asses right now!”
Baltimore, like many urban cities in this country, is known for having elongated streets such as York Road or Park Heights that are filled with abandoned homes, closed recreation centers, and an unnecessary multitude of liquor stores on one end, while immense mansion-sized homes, owned by the well-off and wealthy, shamelessly lie on the other end. Hampden Avenue isn’t as long as York or Park Heights but between 26th and 27th, the homes and caliber of people living on that block are clearly in a lower class than those on Hampden between 27th and 28th. One can compare something as simple as the entrance doors of the homes on both blocks and notice a big difference.
Last week, I was sitting on the stoop in front of my house, waiting for my professor to come by so we could meet about my classroom-based documentary that we have been working on. Right before she came, a middle-aged white woman who lives on the other block came running down the street screaming about a man owing her six dollars. She threatened to kill him. Ten minutes later, she came back around the corner, much calmer. She walked by a younger woman who looked like a bulimic dope fiend. Even though she was pregnant, she still looked bulimic. Her bones were protruding through her colorless skin.
“Why the hell…” she paused mid-sentence to take a long pull and blow out the smoke of her freshly lit Newport, “…are you having another baby girl!?”
This was the same woman who was about to murder a man over her six bucks only five minutes earlier, causing a commotion in the middle of the street, with a person that was nowhere in sight. Here she was again, appearing to be talking to herself because the woman who was pregnant did not respond. Though, it didn’t seem to matter to Ms. Six-Dollars, she kept on going with her tedious monologue.
“How you going to have a baby and you still out here tricking? You still out here getting higher than Jesus rising from the dead! That’s a f*cking shame. You know damn well you shouldn’t be having no damn kids. You ain’t even taking care of the ones you have or taking care of your f*cking self!”
She walked across the street, still ranting to herself, while the pregnant woman almost wore the skin covering her knuckles out, knocking and knocking on the graffiti painted door, until a young man wearing an Oriel’s cap on the other side opened it and let her in…