idealism and reputation
A couple afternoons ago our landlady, Irene, called my cell phone and asked in I could stop by later in the afternoon to talk.
We really like Irene. At the age of, let's estimate, 81 she is a little rough around the edges but soft on the inside. She essentially lives as a shut-in in her own home. She feeds the stray cats meandering outside on our porch and is grateful for the groceries her daughter bring her every Thurs. She can count on it, it's consistent.
When we moved in her only two requests were that we not smoke or not play any of that, "boom, boom, cha-cha" music. We agreed.
The other afternoon after coming home after a long day of job searching, time with neighbors, etc. we found a small paper bag hung on our doorknob full of fresh tomatoes from her backyard.
She insists that if there is anything we ever need, not to touch or do anything ourselves. She wants to be a good home-maker and provide a good home for us. It is her job, she shares. She wants to keep up the house so "we feel at home."
I was a little nervous about this call though. The kids had started coming around more often, yelling up the alleys, calling our names, walking hard on our floors, etc. One day when we were out Irene shared that she had to stick her head out the window and tell them that if they needed us they needed to come to the front door and knock. Neighbors correcting little visitors can never lead to good things.
So I knocked on her door. She often can be found resting on her davenport paralleling her front window. From here she can see and take note of the daily happenings of life. All of that to say, she was within feet of the door when I knocked and offered me no time to collect myself in between "the nervous knock" and the time of entrance into her home (which I secretly hoped wouldn't happen and that by chance at that particular time in space, she wouldn't be available due to her tight schedule of feeding stray cats in the backyard).
Yet, she was there and I was there. She answered the door within seconds. I smiled and entered with the nervous knocking hand at my side.
After small talk of the weather, her tomatoes, flowers, door-bell issues and promises of a "better October" (obviously, according to her, September is going to be just as much of a bust as August apparently), she brought up the anticipating topic of conversation - the children.
She first asked if I knew of the reputation of the children, their parents, the drugs, yelling, prison terms, etc.
I said yes.
She asked if I knew the police were keeping a watch and eye on their apartment, known as a central drug-trading space.
I said yes.
She asked if I cared at all about my reputation in the community.
I said yes (I'll explain in a minute).
She asked if I thought it is a good idea to be involved with "that" family.
I said yes and this is why.
I shared with her that we do care about our reputation in the community. We want our home, both physically and spiritually, to be a home of peace, safety and rest where others, regardless of age, race, or belief feel welcome. We don't want known and unknown friends to see our relationship with "the others" as a threat (although we know this will happen intendedly and will unfortunately have to deal with the unintended consequences). We're careful still. We moderate the time spent in their home and am careful to hang-out where others can see me. Still, Kaylanie, Destiny, Jermaine, Ethan & Jeremy are His Beloved and there is still time... They're not "gangstas," yet. They're not beyond approach, yet. They're not lost, yet. There is still time.
I shared all this with her.
She smiled and tolerated my idealism.
I think she things I'm crazy.
I think I'm crazy too sometimes.