I’m moving. I’m thrilled that I am moving. Beyond thrilled. For those that know me outside of this blog (aka real life), you know that I have a love/hate relationship with my current apartment.
Love: My neighborhood. Hate: Nearly everything else.
Don’t get me wrong, my apartment is cute. But, it’s expensive. It’s really large for a one bedroom, but there is a lot of wasted space. No dishwasher. No washer/dryer. No garbage disposal. No parking spot. No yard. Part of a large (and ugly from the outside) complex. A hallway that smells like weed, cigarettes, and wet dog. Unlikeable neighbors. Absolutely awful landlord/property management (seriously, I could write a novel on this alone).
But all in all, this neighborhood has won me over. Being so central. Walking to Heart every day. Having nearly everything I need within a few blocks. Being surrounded by tree lined streets. A great running route. Telling people where I live and having them sigh and say, “that’s such a great neighborhood.”
Despite my apartment’s many faults, for the three years I have lived in Portland, I couldn’t have asked for a more excellent home. But, the frustrations of my property management – the short story, this is a super old, super run down building – things break. I’ve been given so much shit for asking things to be repaired – like my front door – I like having a door that closes and locks and allows me to enter it – super high maintenance of me, I know. The rent has been skyrocketing since I moved in – it’s gone up 45 percent in less than three years. And I have been growing more and more frustrated about all of the dead space in my apartment.
So, when my friend Daniel offered to rent me his rental duplex, I didn’t think twice. It’s a little smaller than my current place – but the space is much more homey and comfortable. Plus, two bedrooms! A washer/dryer! A yard! A garage! A good friend living right next door! An adorable place to live! Cheaper rent!
The one con – I would be leaving my neighborhood. My home.
My soon to be home is only 35 blocks north of my current home. It’s a quick 5-10 (traffic depending) minute drive from my favorite haunts. It’s all of 3 miles from my beloved Heart.
And here is where my thoughts got ugly and shameful. Daniel’s neighborhood is different than mine – nothing is walkable. It’s a little grittier. It’s definitely lower income. The streets aren’t paved. It’s the only time I have been in Portland and I have noticed that nobody around me looks like me.
When Daniel was showing me the space, he exclaimed, “it’s really great to live somewhere in Portland where there is actually diversity.” I took a long look around and smiled nervously. I immediately came home and started searching the police crime maps for the potential new neighborhood. I meticulously compared them to where I live now. This is something I should ALWAYS do before I move anywhere – I’m ashamed to admit that this is the first time I have done any of this type of research.
I kept thinking about the unpaved roads, the houses down the block that are falling apart, the groups of men that seem to just hang out on the street corner and I wondered if I could actually live there. If it was a smart decision. If it was a safe decision.
I thought about all of the times I have said things like “Portland would be perfect if there were more diversity here.”
I thought about all of the times I have said things like “I don’t even see color.”*
I thought about all of the times I have thought that it might be nice to live in a “more real” neighborhood or city.
The truth is, my new neighborhood is just as safe as my current neighborhood. In fact, there is less petty crime (robbery, car break-ins, DUIs, etc.) and there is the same amount of violent crime (rape, assault, and homicide). There is slightly more drug related crime and more domestic disturbances – but since I don’t do drugs and I’m not planning on getting into an abusive relationship – none of these things are a threat to me in my day-to-day life.
I’ve never lived in a neighborhood that wasn’t considered wealthy. All of my life, my neighbors were making six-figure incomes and my surroundings reflected that.
I’m deeply ashamed that I drove up to this new house, I saw the condition of the rest of the homes on that street, the unpaved roads, and the different races mingling and my mind immediately wondered if it was safe enough to move. I’m disgusted with myself that I’m still a little worried and nervous.
This is classism. This is white privilege. This is hipster racism. This is the worst, smallest side of myself. A side that I truly didn’t know existed and a piece of myself that I am so embarrassed about. I know better, I am better than this – but yet, these thoughts still pop up.
As painful as this is for me to write, I felt like this was important to share. I pride myself on being open minded. I’m a feminist. I support gay marriage. I have friends of all races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes. And yet, these ugly thoughts came to light when I thought about moving to a “poor neighborhood.”
I never thought I would think this way. I know that if I read this on somebody’s blog, I would immediately think that person was a privileged asshole.
I don’t really know what to say for myself. I wrote this because I felt like I had to. For those that protest that white privilege is just liberal propaganda to make white people feel badly and that hipster racism is not a real thing – I’m here to say that if you are white and especially if you are white and middle class, you have white privilege. You do. I do. I didn’t know that I did until I realized that I was nervous to move. Nervous to move to a place that was nearly perfect and more in price range. Nervous to move next door to one of my best friends in Portland.
I knew white privilege was real. I thought I was immune because of my political beliefs and my diverse circle of friends and my hippie free love attitude. But, I’m not immune and I’m so sad about it and I am humbled by how wrong I have been.
This all has been absolutely flooring me for weeks now.
Now that I have all this ugliness off of my chest and I feel like I can work on these parts of myself that make me so sad, I am happy to say that I am so looking forward to moving. I really am. I can’t wait to meet my neighbors (besides Daniel, I know that guy). I can’t wait to garden and give my dog a yard. I can’t wait to discover new coffee shops and new friends and new parks. I can’t wait to save money and start saving for a down payment on a house (thank you cheaper rent). And I especially can’t wait to share the space here – I see so much crazy potential in it – it’s going to be such a great move.
*Note: I haven’t said this in a long, long, long time. College was the last time probably – for good reason. It’s a stupid thing to say, but I have said it.
WRITERS NOTE: This post was incredibly hard for me to write and the ugliest, hardest thing I have ever written about myself. I am not proud. I shared it because I thought it was important. With the disturbing recent headlines (Trayvon Martin in particular), I felt like it was necessary to share these horrible and fleeting thoughts that I never thought I would have. I thought I was better than this and above it all – if anybody would have told me that I would have had these thoughts – I would have called them crazy. My entire group of friends would have called them crazy. But, when I was put into a position that wasn’t hypothetical – the thoughts appeared. I wanted to share these things because everybody needs to recognize their role in making society better or worse. Everybody needs to own their ugliness and make strides to change. I’ve never been so disappointed in myself. I know this post is going to rub some people the wrong way. I know I’m not as eloquent in explaining as I’d like to be. I know I’ll lose readers and twitter followers – I understand – but I felt like this was important.