Freeze-Frame – The place for the boys
Standing on the site of the new boys home on Street, I am less than 1 block from
the Hip Hop Hair & Café. I can see it over my left shoulder. Before me is a stucco house that was
probably built in the 1950’s judging by the size and layout, its front yard scraped clean of
everything but dirt. All of the windows and doors have recently been replaced and the framing
shows through around the windows. Obviously, the windows have been enlarged from the
postage stamp size windows that would have been in the house. Enlarge the windows, let in
the light and the world around. Most of the back yard is covered with asphalt as if in anticipation
of 8 to 10 cars parking in the back yard. Perhaps it is not for cars. Perhaps the gentleman
working on the house has plans for basketball hoops for the boys that will live in this house.
He is enthusiastic and his voice rings with the hope for the future. He will bring the
boys from their current home with the older men and give them a place of their own.
In contrast to that optimism, around the edge of the site a 6-foot chain link fence gives
the impression on three sides of a prison compound.
The front is free of fence and open to the street behind me. I can feel the presence
of the neighborhood as students from a school half a block beyond the Hip Hop Hair & Cafe
stream by. In groups of two to four they are engrossed in their conversations, seemingly
oblivious to the heavy backpacks they carry on their backs. Required to carry those loads
by some employer, they would be considered abused and misused.
To the left the neighbors have chosen to bring their chain link fence closer to their house.
Only 10 feet separate the house and the big gates that signal the limit of their “safe zone.”
Clothes adorn the top of the fence in front of the house, a strange clothesline born of necessity.
Beside the fence a car is seen full of possessions, a makeshift storage area for the excess that
will not fit in the tiny house. Possessions – many possessions around the yard – clutter to some
– comfortable living to others – a feeling of being alive, used, lived in – the comfortable fit of an
The corner on the other side of the house is bare. Stripped of its purpose and function
and now ready to be assigned a new function. Its chain link fence prevents all from trespassing
onto this now denuded spot, keeping it pristine until its new function is manifest.
My attention goes again the stucco of the white house sitting in wait for the boys.