Generally, a town with a low-rate of owner-occupied houses is a sign of a transient population and people who are not vested in the community. Because of this, I hesitated to move to this town since more than half of the houses are rentals; I thought it boded ill. But my house was here, and so now I am too.
For the most part, I’ve had a great experience, almost idyllic, and this is the face of the town that I generally write about.
But there is another face that makes me leery, such as a drug dealer who rents a house on the corner, who allegedly steals tools, and who plays his music way too loud (that thumping can be heard a block or two away, which someone told me is code for his “store” being open). Making matters more tense, his girlfriend is a dispatcher at the sheriff’s department, so the complaints of those who call seldom get past her, and, even worse, she knows exactly who is calling.
In a house across the alley, a pair of drug dealers apparently had a falling out right before I moved here, and one shot and killed the other. I don’t know the truth of that. Another story has it that the killer was never charged and that the dead guy is alive and living in a nearby town. The story goes that the two purported drug dealers were actually DEA agents scoping out the local drug scene, which seems specious at best, since they lived within sight of a known dealer.
Four marijuana shops are in the process of opening, and one friend, who moved here to get away from the legal marijuana trade is worried. It’s not those who buy for themselves that concern him, but he says that too often people “trade up,” buying pot and trading to the dealers for the heavy stuff, which increases the overall drug traffic.
Adding to this whole situation, not far from here is a residential program for the homeless, which helps them recover from any substance problems and then transitions them back to self-sufficiency. Hundreds of people are brought in from Denver and other big cities in Colorado, as well as veterans from all over the country. This is a great program, but people who drop out are not sent back where they came from, so they hang around here.
Worst of all, mostly because they are so ubiquitous, are the dogs. There is a leash law, but it is not enforced, and too many dogs end up roaming the streets. This is the only place I’ve ever lived where I feel the need to carry pepper spray.
A few months ago, a woman who lives at the far end of my street was ravaged by dogs, and her husband had to shoot one to save her. Nothing happened to the dog owners, but the husband is in big trouble for shooting off a gun within the city limits. And the dog owners are tormenting them. What they once thought was a Mayberryish town turned into a nightmare for them, so they are leaving.
It sounds like a horrible place, doesn’t it? And yet the life I am building for myself in this community really is close to ideal. My nearest neighbors are great, as are the people I see most frequently. When I was forced inside because of a bad cough, I had more offers of help than I did in all months I was dealing with a shattered arm. People I’ve never met recognize me. Almost everything I need is within walking distance. My house is lovely, it and feels safe (will even feel safer when the fence is finished.)
Maybe all places are like this — half horror, half heaven — but this seems a particularly Janus-faced town.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.