Neighborhood Drama Turns Into Navel Gazing Freak Out

ben's car with side view mirror torn off
This morning when Ben went to get into his car to go to work, he found it missing a side view mirror. It was torn off the sidewalk side, so the culprit is definitely a person and not a bad driver. This is the second time someone has broken off his side view mirror. The only thing we can think of is that the kids in the neighborhood have some sort of crew, initiation to which is procured in trade for a side view mirror from the shittiest car on the block.

I get really mad when bad things happen to my boyfriend, and I feel totally powerless over whichever punks have targeted his poor, run down little car two times in a row. He works really hard, he drives a shitty car because he doesn’t make enough money to buy a new one and somebody decides that it’s okay to take pieces of his car just because they can. It costs a lot of money to replace a side view mirror, even a plain old plastic mirror you have to adjust with your hand like the one he has.

I don’t know why, but my immediate reaction to something like that is to wish I had committed more vandalism in my youth. That’s completely, one hundred percent the wrong answer, but that’s the first thing I think. I have an overinflated sense of fairness, especially when it comes to me and mine. I want to balance the scales on a universal level, but I cant.

There are days when I love my neighborhood, and then there are days like today. When I finally trudged home from work myself there was a random stranger, (I know a good number of the neighbors) standing in our courtyard yelling about this “bitch” who “had touched my stuff,” and how he felt that “she had no right” to touch it. The yelling only lasted for 5 minutes at the very most, but that’s kind of a scary experience. One second you’re saving the citizens of Skyrim from various nefarious foes, the next there’s a grown ass man in a hoodie yelling incomprehensible gibberish in the courtyard and looking fucking scary.

Days like this I just want to know what. the. fuck. I’m going to be 30 in three short years, and when I envision my childhood self, with all her dreams and plans looking at my life, all I can think of her saying is “Jesus, you live in a shithole.” And it’s true. There are roaches, the shower leaks, the sink was literally painted white before we moved in and now there’s always flakes of latex paint in my sponge after I do the dishes. The sidewalks are all cracked, the “front yard” is filled with dog poop that no one picks up and we randomly have electrical outages that affect the half the apartment for weeks at a time.

Is this normal? I don’t think this is normal.

To be fair, I’m just upset about Ben’s car, and annoyed at myself because I’m trying to figure out my plan for the next few years, and I’m worried about the future and money and status. Despite my tirade about the roaches and the electricity and the paint in the sink, this is the perfect place for us right now. We work so many hours that it’s almost ludicrous to have the amount of space we occupy anyway, why pay more for something in a nicer neighborhood that will just sit empty for longer because we’ll have to work even more in order to afford it? But I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. Ben and I work until we drop, and what does it get us? Really, the answer to this is: it gets us a lot. We have more fun at our jobs than anybody else I know, even though the amount of care we put into them can sometimes make them extremely frustrating as well as fun. We also have a fairly large apartment considering what we pay and how close we are to the beach. We’re paying off our student loans, living comfortably and creating long term savings.

When I look back at this time last year, and the year before, all the way back to when I was 18 living in a garage, working two menial jobs and going to high school in the hopes of getting a scholarship to college, I remember how amazing it is for me to even live indoors right now.

My computer finally died after nearly 5 years of dedicated service and I was able to pay cash for another machine without any worry at all. There was a time in my life when $1.53 meant the difference between being able to afford a grilled cheese sandwich at In and Out and not eating lunch at all. If 18 year old me got to follow 27 year old me around for a day, she would probably be appalled at how lazy I’ve gotten. I don’t do nearly the hours, or the strenuous labor that I did in school, and yet I feel constantly tired. 18 year old me could live for a year on what I currently make in a month, and yet I wonder if I have enough.

There’s something I’m missing, and I don’t know what it is. Currently my job is in a place where I don’t know if it’ll be here in three months time. It’s stressing me out and making me insecure about my abilities as a worker. I’m trying to save all the money I can before the (in my mind) inevitable lay off, but I can’t help but wonder at times like these, what’s the purpose of all this work? Is there a better way? I personally think that I’m the type of person who will work myself silly no matter the context, I’ll find a way to throw myself in. And the rewards I get from working hard are so much more than monetary. Just like when I was 18, trying to navigate college scholarships and financial aid packages and dorms and books all by myself I want to know “what is all this work for? Will it actually help me, or is it futile?” What I learned from that, and what I lean on now is that hard work is never wasted. Even if you don’t get what you want, or what you think you need, hard work is a perpetual motion machine.

There have been times when it seemed desperate, where if I had just gotten a glimpse of my life today I would have felt relieved. These are the times I have to think about now when I’m frustrated like I was then, wanting to know if it all works out. Based on experience, it does.

Manhattan Beach at Sunrise
I live 15 minutes away from this. How amazing is that?