My 'Hood

The neighborhood in which I live is probably one of Indianapolis's most wealthy and, therefore, conservative. Because it's inside the 465 loop and is just minutes from downtown and Broad Ripple, there seem to be slightly more obviously unorthodox residents than there would be in, say, Geist, Carmel, Fishers, Zionsville, Avon, Plainfield, Danville, etc…

There are about a dozen houses between the two north/south streets that flank us and only two of those are homes to what could be considered “typical families.” I kind of like that.
In this area it seems almost everyone is a married straight couple who owns their home, has the requisite 2.5 kids, golden retriever, shops at Pottery Barn when they're feeling trendy, and drives both a sedan and a SUV. Everyone walks to the local coffeeshop on Sundays to get their paper and latte, walking the dog and pushing the $400 stroller. It's peaceful, yes, and safe, but sometimes that can be boring.

My little block, however, has – as far as I know – three single 25 year-old girls in the other side of our double, two different lesbian couples, two unmarried couples, a single 40-something woman who's very independent and occasionally goes for rides in a friend's older convertible while wearing a floppy hat, big sunglasses, and a scarf (I like her style), me and Charlie living with Cavan (some would consider that very weird), and two other duplexes with young people living in them who rarely make any noise. That's unusual. I don't believe I've lived anywhere with neighbors younger than thirty who aren't constantly partying. But you know what they have in common? They're all white.

Our two “normal” families are a young married couple with a year-old daughter to the left of our house, and a retired couple to the right.

I used to live in a place on the west side that was on what, at first glance, seemed to be a very nice, quiet cul-de-sac. But the single dad next door was always fighting with (screaming at) his teenagers, or their mom when she came over. The kids seemed to have the run of the place. Their friends would block our driveway and blast their car stereos at all hours of the day and night while they went inside the house. The older couple on the other side had a dog that constantly jumped the fence and barked nonstop.

Then I lived in an expensive part of Broad Ripple, in a rental we could barely afford even with a roommate, only to find ourselves next door to a couple of medical residents who could party for – no kidding – two days straight. We used to joke that they must have used their medical experience to revive anyone with alcohol poisoning, or had several stomach pumps on-hand. One of them was very nice; the other could have given a shit less about us. We were always finding him peeing over our fence at three in the morning, or taunting our dogs at 3 in the afternoon. I can't count on both hands how many times I tossed and turned in bed in the dead of winter before going outside to ask them to please move the party into their house as their back porch directly faced my bedroom windows. And just as many times I heard Cavan or Charlie or both of them come home from work at the bar to shout at the guys to shut the f–k up because it was 4am and the neighbors had started partying at noon the day before.

I won't even go into the details of apartment living. Suffice it to say that when I lived alone I managed to find the city's fastest-declining complex, chock full of Section 8, screaming children, slashed tires, rape, murder, and a nonexistent security staff. Depending upon whom you spoke with, it was either “Little Mexico” or “Central State II.” Not that the ethnicity or mental health of the residents had much to do with the crime – it just surprised me how many people called the complex by one of those two names.

Then there was the double south of Broad Ripple where we were surrounded by people with Rottweilers, pit bulls, and German Shepherds who neglected or abused their animals. But I don't want to go into that.

With a move closer to the governor's mansion I feel there's a lack of culture and experience. I'm not saying I miss the domestic abuse, animal abuse, child abuse, wild parties, fireworks 365 days a year (what is that about? Is any event an excuse to set off explosives in the street?). But everyone I work with is white. Everyone who lives around me is white. 99% of our customers are white.
When we went to Kelly's garage sale/moving party I felt so typical. She had friends there from all walks of life: college professors she still kept in touch with, and friends from college; Africans related to or friends with her husband who is from Guinea; people of Indian and Middle Eastern descent.
All I'm saying is, I know a shitload of white people. I'm kinda-sort friends with a guy who's married to someone I used to work with, but to be honest I'm not even sure what his ethnicity is. And we don't talk all that often. I thought over last summer when I did the AmeriCorps thing that I was friendly with everyone I worked with, but quickly found out some people still prefer segregation.
Even when I've lived in diverse areas I've never managed to forge solid friendships with anyone who isn't a Typical White Indiana Resident.

I've been taking courses at both Ivy Tech and IUPUI and have met a wealth of new people, many of whom I've been on a casual, friendly chatting basis; saying hi in the hallways; passing one another between buildings and stopping to see what classes they're taking this semester. But it is just that: casual.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm friends with everyone from a 20 year-old goth/punk princess Herron student to a 60 year-old electrician and maintenance guy who never finished high school. My acquaintances are gay and straight, bisexual and transgenered. They're pierced, tattooed, long-haired hippies and upstanding citizens with respectable doctor/lawyer-type jobs. They're drug addicts and strict vegans who would never touch alcohol. They listen to bluegrass and country, techno and jungle, rock and roll, emo and screamo. I respect all of them and their beliefs.

But there's something so Midwestern about having a large group of acquaintances you consider diverse because they all like different kinds of music.

And there's something so Liberal White Girl about considering it sad that you don't have any really good black friends.

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