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Posts Tagged ‘window’

Kensington 1903-2009


Its  odd what you get used to, living in the shadow of  Kensington, a large three story brownstone with ten apartments & too much litter. Kensington itself was tall, dark & handsome with a foreboding manner with its red bricks & art deco lighting, you just knew you’d be safe inside; no big bad wolf could blow that place down. Many people lived there and even though some of the traffic through there was bad, you do get used to your neighbors and the routines of life around you.


Kensington burned Monday June 29th and I am amazed at the loss I feel, although I really only lost some noise, drug deals, and a reason for some cautious paranoia.

I did have an amazing cat live in my back yard all last summer that belonged to someone there (his name was Niet).  He died in the fire.


Perhaps that’s the grief I really feel. Knowing it was in his apartment that the fire started in, and feeling the heat, choking on the smoke, watching the tenants huddled together as they lost all that they had. The grief was crushing.


Watching the rest of  Kensington being torn down was like watching an autopsy as the Y incision ripped apart the wood floors, snapping the marble stairwell, claw foot tubs and little girl’s bicycles tumbling out like intestines, stopping only when the last leaded glass window shattered.


You could actually hear Kensington moan. Maybe it was the radiators.

I no longer live in the shadow of Kensington. I’ll never get to see the little girl get her training wheels off her pink bike or look for Neit in the window on the second floor right side.


I do still hear the beeping of the smoke alarms though buried in the rubble as if a heart monitor is calling out to say I ‘m still here. But nobody’s there: not the little girl, not the yappy dogs, not the cat, not even the shadow… all because of a cigarette.

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            I was sitting on top of a sand dune in an oversized sweatshirt I’d woven from the fabric of my soul.  My friend Lori looked out on the morning mists obscuring the edge of the water.  “It’s like an abyss,” she said.  Then she turned to me asked, “Would you go?”

            I don’t even hesitate.  I’m always one for hypothetical adventure.  But that’s not the truth of my life.  The truth is that I’d live at the edge of the abyss and spend all my time thinking about it.

            Surrounding that morning’s walk with Lori was a slow process of securing an apartment in Muskegon, playing phone tag with Jesse at Bethany Housing Services, sometimes from two states away.Pile

            My involvement in the McLaughlin neighborhood isn’t easy to figure; I like hiking, backpacking, and I’m terrified of groups of people.  And it started long before I moved into this apartment just outside the neighborhood.

            It started late on Thursday nights, talking with Corey LeCureux over a bottle of Winking Owl.  When I dropped out of college and my life sort of fell apart, my friendship with Corey was the first piece that was rebuilt.  Those late night talks started me dreaming about something called the Kingdom of God and gave me a reason to live – to search for that mythical place where everything was different.BB

            I thought back to those nights as I was looking around the apartment.  I looked at the hole in my window where someone had taken a potshot with a BB gun.  “I’m getting closer.”

            It was Jerry DePoy Jr. who suggested I talk with Sarah Rinsema-Sybenga at Sacred Suds.  I ended up teaching a computer class for a while, which also isn’t easy to figure, since I’ve never been able to explain things in a straight line.

            My father helped me move my stuff in on Wednesday.  We struggled up the stairs with the massive orange sofa, and everything I do is to make him proud of me.  With all the furniture in, it looked so empty, and I thought how much the city was shrinking for me.

            When I was teaching the computer class at Sacred, I was working under Carlos Avrard.  That’s how I got involved with Mosaic Way, a missional community in McLaughlin.  That was over a year ago.  It was because of Mosaic Way I first started thinking about moving to McLaughlin.

            I wanted to get all my stuff settled before the weekend because I had to work.  Friday, as I was bringing in the last of my things, there was a stranger working on my door.  “We’re changing all the locks,” he told me as I handed him my old keys.  When I had all my stuff arranged, I looked around in amazement at my apartment.  “I can’t believe this is mine.  I’m the richest man in the world.”

            If my friendship with Corey gave me my soul back, then my job at the North Ottawa Care Center returned my heart.  I know what my purpose in life is.  I can’t describe to you the pain of being so close to death, but it you buy me a drink I’ll try.

            Saturday morning, after work, I stumbled home in my scrubs, ready to crash in my new place.  My key hit the front lock with a thud and would go no further.  And that’s the story of how I almost got an apartment in McLaughlin…

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