'I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good...

by tosca on Sunday, June 20, 2010

...I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good. '
- Oprah Winfrey

Househunting, whether it be for myself or myself and a sibling, fills me with trepidation. In fact, I'm convinced I'd have more fun if I slit mine own eyelids and cast mine eyes to the sun. Are you getting the point? And yet I find myself househunting somewhat frantically because the closer my sibling gets (I 'fondly' refer to her as 'Miss Knocked Up') to her baby-due date, the more vocal she gets about wanting out of the hood. As weird as it seems, I will miss this street.

Yeah, that's right, I live in the ghetto. Or what passes for one here in Takanini. A friend's husband told me a few years ago that the police fear our street. They've never had to live on it so really I don't know what they've got to bitch about. I've grown up here on and off for the last 25+ years - I've seen good and bad people come and go and, sometimes, stay and make a damn good fist of it. Like we did. My parents raised 7 children here, in the hood, and we're all pretty damn normal/fabulous so they must've done something right. I wish I could say the same about some of the other parents in this area.

Verner is as home as I know. Other than a brief stint in Whangarei - the solo mummy capital of the north at that point in time, a couple of years in Mt. Eden Village (whoa, no ghetto there - all designer coffees and designer dogs and even designer kids, jesus) and a year in Papakura, this is my stomping ground. Our family has been here the longest. In fact, everyone I ever grew up with moved away eventually. I do remember good days in this street, an era when everyone knew everyone else and we all cared about each other. Can't say as I've seen that in a while. Somewhere along the way people stopped caring - about each other, about their homes, about their families and, in the end, about themselves. If they had half as much interest in their own wellbeing as they do in the next box of beers the world would be a happier place. If I cared enough to stay I'd like to think I could work on that communal spirit but I don't feel like I have that in me. My parents did, they were very community minded but it's not something that gets my motor going the way it did them. I just wanna get on with getting on.

What will I miss? Believe it or not, the following: the next door neighbour's son who sells dope (except for those times when some bastard knocks on your door at 11pm and tries to shove $20 in your face without even a 'How do you do?' - yeah, not good. To say the least. When I told my brother-in-law he said to me, 'You should've taken the money and shut the door.' LOL Idiot); their boozing 3 or 4 days a frickin' week (try to sleep with that shit going on under your window. Can anybody spell pickled livers?); their thieving daughter and her partner who ripped me off (although, I gotta say, a dumber person never lived, surely - they stole my safe...but left the instructions for opening it behind and, to this day, still haven't opened it. I have to be honest, I have deep-seated rage and I so much want to run her down when I see her. Ugh. Inconsiderate and, get this, related. Yah-huh they're related); the family who live three houses down who like to intimidate anybody, everybody and will rob you blind if you're not looking; the family across the street who like to intimidate people as well and, if word on the street is true, sent a death threat to another neighbour because she called animal control on their dog because it bit her daughter. Twice; the kids who throw rocks at cars; the loose dogs that run around with no collars, no tags and no frickin' obvious owners; the shopping trolleys left dumped on the road; the tagging on the road; the tagging on the fences. Do I bother to count the other two 'tinny houses' in the street? Or the other two around the corner? Or the loads-full in the so-called 'holiday park' which is anything but? Yeah, whichever way you look at it that's some bad mojo, right there. But it's mojo I know, and it's mojo I can handle. Which is, in some part, what I will miss most - all the bad stuff is bad stuff I'm familiar with. Bad stuff that doesn't (mostly because of my well-known mean-spiritedness and bad temper) touch me. It's all in context. It's when I'm outside of Verner that the rules of behaviour change, somewhat, and I find myself...disconcerted.

Growing up here did give me an education: I'm not afraid of confrontation; I will call the cops on your ass if you're breaking the law; I'm not afraid of blunt talk (if anything I need to cultivate a bit of diplomacy and tact); I think nothing of calling people an idiot if that's what they are; I have no patience for fools; I detest liars and being lied to; I can spot a pervert a mile away; I can pick the only bad guy out of a bunch of good guys; I have a pretty clear cut line when it comes to ethics and what's right and a whole host of other stuff that has served me well in my everyday life. So I will miss this street. Shoot, I haven't even gone yet and I miss it. But I'm also somewhat apprehensive about moving on, even though it's one of the better things I could do - because nobody should feel like their street is a new kind of urban battlefield. Better the ghetto you know...right?


This is an awesome post. If you weren't one of my heroes before (and you were), you definitely are now!
Don't be apprehensive - you've now got skills that make living anywhere a breeze.
It's funny though, eh, everyone always thinks the other way around (or maybe they don't, maybe I'm just being self-centred) - if you've not lived in a confrontational environment (like me) and you're thrust into it how do you deal with confrontation? But conversely, how do you turn that switch off if you no longer have to use it? People automatically think a move out of that environment is a good thing, something you would just naturally want and would instantly benefit from and never look back.

It's so easy to forget that "normal" has a different meaning for everyone.

by BookieMonster on June 21, 2010 at 9:11 AM. #

I wonder how I'll be when I live where I don't have to be so confrontational - it's certainly come in handy on the front desk at work. I'm the customer's best friend...until they slip up. Eek. At work is a hoot because while everyone else is scrambling around for a tactful answer I'll say what I think which is usually, 'No, it's shit, I'm sorry, I don't like it.' My boss is terrific and I feel so sorry for him having to deal with me on a daily basis LOL I want to live in a place where a knock on the door at 1am is not 1) the police or 2) someone trying to score drugs. I would also like to think it's not normal to be suspicious of one's neighbours. I do remember, years ago, we used to live in a neighbourhood like that in Howick and Wellington so I know these places exist. My parents loved South Auckland in all its goodness and badness but they've retired to the far north now and this street is not what they would have remembered. Moving could be a good thing, if I can swallow my nerves hah :)

Thanks for stopping by! I forgot that other ppl are out here, too!

by catatonia on June 21, 2010 at 7:58 PM. #

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