I live in a house with sharpie drawings of naked ladies on the walls and a flashing neon Corona sign in the window. I live out of one suitcase in the corner of my friend’s room in a neighborhood where I am very aware that I am a white girl and where the majority of families do not speak English. I have between 7-10 roommates at any given time along with a cat named Cthulhu.

I got to Denver at 1:30am one morning, two weeks after buying a one way ticket back. I walked into my friend’s house (we’ll call him Urban Jesus, because that’s what he looks like) and was promptly handed a bottle of whiskey and beer before I had even set my stuff down- what a reception! The next day, upon seeing my neighborhood in the light, I realized that I was in the ghetto.

I live two blocks off of a street known for prostitution, scary motels and drug deals. It is a low income neighborhood with lots of adorable emigrant families and kids running around playing soccer. It feels safe and I’ve never been bothered by anyone- in fact, the only time anyone has spoken to me on the street or on the bus was to compliment my hair!

The house is a wreck- if a security deposit was even paid in the first place it certainly will not be returned. My feet turn black from walking across the floors, there are no dishes to be found (all broken at one point or another so the roommates quite bothering), and flies amass around the food, drinks, and cigarette butts scattered at random. The laundry area has exploded and it is indiscernible to me if the clothes are clean, dirty, to be used as floor mops or shower towels, or are simply used as a communal closet. I won’t tell you the horrors of what lies under the couch cushions (a word to the wise- ignorance is bliss. Just don’t look). Soap exists in small, coveted quantities and Clorox is merely a myth.

I semi-seriously joked to my mother about living in a box under a bridge while I figured out my life here… the box would’ve been cleaner, certainly!

Drugs of the legal and illegal variety are rampant in this place. Different friends and friends of friends are constantly in and out, partying and crashing on the couch for a few nights. Only a few nights have gone by in which there was peace and quiet when I got home from work; I love a good party and I enjoy music, but at 3am? Not so much. A couple of the roommates don’t partake in those types of things and no one is pushy about imparting their habits on others, but it is disconcerting for me. My worst addiction is to my morning (or afternoon, or evening…) latte, not to a constant stream of cigarettes, alcohol, or harder substances.

The house does have a passable front porch in which I have spent many an afternoon enjoying the sun, a good book, and the cool breezes of an afternoon thunderstorm rolling in while chatting with the roommates. The guys have started a library in the house and books have quickly piled up on the windowsills; they have gathered everything from the Kama Sutra to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights… I guess there’s something for everyone!

More updates to come from life in the ghetto. Peace out, homies.

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