Defining a Transitional Neighborhood


And Also Living in One

Edited to add this note: This is a silly story about my husband. I’ve noticed that this particular page has become one of the most-viewed pages on my website. I can only guess it’s because people are searching for a real definition for “transitional neighborhood” and they end up here. If that’s the answer you’re seeking, I’m sorry, but it’s not here. You’re welcome to read on, but please don’t expect anything but silliness. Thank you.

Liam and I live in what the real estate world calls a “transitional” neighborhood. I’m often asked for a definition of “transitional” and find it hard to put into words. Essentially, it means the area was once pretty rough but is currently going through a renaissance of sorts. It’s still hard to make this clear to people, especially if they’re determined to see the scary parts and forget to focus on the beautiful. One day last week, I got my definition.

Our neighbor, Earl lives in the front portion of a duplex. Though a really great guy, he often has the cops at his front door checking for illegal activity or just to tell him to turn his music down. In the back half of the house, a man just moved back in with his girl after a short stint in jail. My mother would weep if she knew. But Mike is also a great guy who made some bad choices—none of those choices are enough to frighten Liam or me. In fact, we often yell across the fence to say hello and check on everyone. In return, they watch out for us.

Others may see our neighbors as dubious or scary. What we see is a couple of people who sometimes need the benefit of the doubt instead of a smack on the hand. Earl takes care of our yard work and trims the trees when birds poop on our cars. Mike stops by on occasion to see if we’d like to try some of the chocolate-covered strawberries his girlfriend makes. For the record, they’re delicious. Still, it doesn’t stop us from teasing them every once in a while. For instance, there was the day Earl walked out on his front porch and found several hanging baskets of flowers had appeared overnight. Because he likes to tend his yard and plant shrubs, someone obviously thought these would be a nice gift, but we sometimes suggest they fell off a truck somewhere. I also threaten to call the cops myself when he plays Nickelback, whether it’s too loud or not.

And when we headed out to our car one afternoon, Liam took one look at these guys who’d been down on their luck, and sometimes still are, and saw them making the best of their situation. He couldn’t help but get one more jab in. As Mike headed to another neighbor’s house with a new box of chocolate-covered strawberries and Earl hung a flower basket from his front porch, Liam rolled down the window and yelled, “Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta!”

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