catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 21 :: 2012.11.23 — 2012.12.06


Front porch

The best thing about living here in Roseland has got to be our front porch.  In and of itself, it’s nothing special. Just a set of steps and a small landing, wooden boards painted gray.  But when you couple a porch with great weather and a house on Skid Row, then great things happen.

There are the kids who come swarming at the door, begging for games and coloring books.  There are the neighbors sitting on their porches who wave and say “hi” to us.  Ms. B. next door calls out in her grandmotherly voice to us, “Hey baby!”  J., who rents a room in Ms. B.’s house, is a Christian who gave up the drug life.  He talks about Jesus and prayer with the older boys on the block.  D., Ms. B’s daughter, is loud and curious.  We go to her for all the news on the block.  She talks a mile a minute and likes a good smoke.  She offers us some weed occasionally.  We politely decline.  M., on the other side of us, asks us to pray for him, but isn’t ready to come to church with us yet.  We hear Mr. B.’s booming voice on the street.  He lives across the street and over a few houses.  He can monologue for two hours straight and is convinced nobody knows anything about anything except for himself.

Every day there’s something new on the street; a woman selling candy bars yelling, “What kind of candy is this? This is BIG-ASS CANDY!”  This makes me and my housemates crack up.  We buy six bars.  On a slow day, one of the drug dealers sweeps up the cigarette butts and trash in front of our house for us.  J. plays Bryan Adams on repeat in a van.  I come home to the smell of barbeque and a constant stream of strangers heading for the free food on the block that the drug dealers are grilling.  Chelsea and I munch on wings on Ms. B.’s porch. 

Sometimes I get weird looks because people have such a hard time believing I live in the house.  I wonder what they must think when our whole household is on the porch: two black people, three white people and one Asian person all living together.  I guess it would look a little weird anywhere.  But our neighbors are getting used to us, and we are getting used to them. Whoever decided that houses should have front porches was a genius.

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