Bryan and I got married quite young. I was still in College and he just finished. I was a part time lab TA, teaching a few labs at the college, making a whole $50 a week. My hubby was a fresh-out-of-college social worker making $18K a year. Yea. We weren't rich.
We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment in Conroe, TX. It was a nice apartment complex, but they raised the rent to over $500 a month (this was back in 1993). When it went up I thought it was OUTRAGEOUS! We had just gotten a little dog, so I thought maybe I could find a house to rent. Something small, something quaint, with a little back yard for Casey.
I looked in the paper and found a lot of nice homes in nice neighborhoods for nice prices we couldn't afford. Finally, one ad showed something like this: "3/1 brick house, carport, $375 per month. Call 555-1234" Perfect! I called the guy, he met me over there. The house was brick, the walls were standing, it had a roof, only a couple of windows were broken. The landlord said he had a window air conditioning unit, but it kept getting "borrowed", so he would put another in when we moved in. What more could we want? So, I said "I'll take it!"
The house was in a part of town people liked to call "Dougan". We had only lived in Conroe 6 months so that meant nothing to us. We were really just excited to be living in a HOUSE. After the lease was signed we started to tell friends about it. They would ask where it was and we would tell them the street. They would say "Isn't that in Dougan?" We would say "Yea! I think it is!" and their faces would go a little flush. We would invite them over and the response was always "Uh...yea. Maybe" and they would quickly change the subject. I guess they wanted a house, too, and their faces went flush with jealousy.
The day we moved into the house the weather was perfect. We came with our furniture. When I grew up my mom always brought a dish to the new neighbors to welcome them. I guess our new neighbors were shy. We saw them peeking out of their curtains at us but never came out. Or they peeled back the aluminum foil on the window to see us, whichever they had. I would wave and they would quickly close the curtain, or aluminum foil as the case may be. I figured once they saw us for a while they would become less shy.
As I was putting our clothes into the closet a board fell from the back. I went to put it back in and saw a couple of baggies. One was filled with a white powder that I assumed was flour and another filled with little dried leaves that I assumed was oregano. I thought that was a weird place to store your food, but maybe they ran out of pantry space. I went ahead and threw them away because I didn't know how old they were. I wouldn't want my cakes to not rise due to really old flour.
We finally did meet a couple of our neighbors. One night at about 11pm, a neighbor knocked on our door. He asked if we would like to buy the bug zapper and watch that he happened to have. I told him "No Thanks" but invited him to Sunday Dinner so we could get to know his family a little better. For some reason they didn't show up.
Another neighbor knocked on our door one morning. I couldn't understand her well because she was dentally challenged, but I think she asked if my boyfriend could help jump her car. I told her that he was actually my husband, and that he would but he wasn't home. She mumbled something and left.
At night we regularly heard what sounded like fireworks in the street. I guess our neighbors liked to celebrate a lot at night. One of the fireworks got the dog next door. It was sad. He was a rottweiler and always smiled when I went into the back yard. He liked to show his teeth when he smiled.
I think we'll bring the kid(s) back there when they are older. Everyone likes to know where their parents once lived.
Question: Have you ever lived in a place you felt unsafe?