Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tales from the hood

When my family and I made the decision 2 years ago to move from an affluent neighborhood in the suburbs to the heart of Central Sacramento, I knew there would be adjustments. Many of our friends and family had warned us about the area we chose, but the price was right and the house adorable. What could go wrong?
Well, many things. Many, many things could and did go wrong.

2010 was a rough year for our neighborhood. Our house was one of many that were robbed, and it took the entire block holding vigil to get the City & Police department to start enforcing the law on a particularly bad house. The home across from ours housed a degenerate who was prone to engaging in bare-knuckle street fighting with anyone walking by who dared give him the side-eye.
Thankfully, virtually all of the previous "problem" houses are now filled with families with young kids.
The grass is cut and the sidewalks are swept by myself and a nice man who doesn't say much more than "Good morning" every now and then. The street sweepers don't come to our neighborhood, it's up to us to clean up after the folks who use our quiet block as a thoroughfare between 2 major city streets, they leave behind discarded bags of cheetos and the like.
It's not their home, they don't mind the mess.

Many people who don't know any better will tell you they don't feel safe walking down my street.
They cringe when I tell them I ride my bike after 10pm across this city, through what they consider the ghetto, to the bustle of Midtown and back again. I have a light that flashes and no more than a detachable basket to carry what I might need on an evening out with a girlfriend.
I don't have pepper spray or a taser.

I send my son to the grocery store on the corner, and let the kids walk down to play at the Community Center with no escort, and am not afraid for them. Not at all.

This area is poor, it's true. People getting off the bus a block away might not have a problem coming right up to you to ask for change. There is a prostitute that gets free meals at the church and we all know she likes to be called Janet Jackson. There's Miss Tabatha, who may or may not be homeless, it's not the kind of thing you ask someone. She can be seen pushing a double stroller filled with a myriad of trinkets & fodder for the recycling center. She loves babies and won't pass by without stopping to ask you how you're feeling on this fine day.
Maybe these aren't the kind of people you want in your subdivision, and I suppose if I had to plan my perfect community, it wouldn't look exactly like this. But Oak Park is not what you think it is, it's what you want it to be.

It's home.


  1. having grown up in the ghetto i totally get it, neighborhoods are really what you make of them and even the classiest places have their own trash. i think its funny people are so scared of OP it gets such a bad rap but its actually really cute and affordable!

    1. What surprises me most, is how dangerous outsiders think it is in OP. Ghetto doesn't mean gunfire, lol

  2. I grew up there! :) Growing up we lived in maybe 3 different houses in OP. I wish I had the kinds of stories you have to share about it, but my memories of growing up there were pretty rough. But that may also be an age/perspective thing. As a young woman, I never felt safe. As for the reputation itself, I never cared what people thought of where I grew up. I went to school w/kids bused into Sac High from nicer areas and I viewed my neighborhood as a badge of being somehow badass. I think it's awesome you're raising your young family there, it's an area with a lot of potential and cool folks.

    1. I bet it's gone through quite a lot of changes since then. I've noticed that the crime & other problems have a bit of ebb & flow. We seem to be on the upswing for now.


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