The Most Beautiful House In The World

Los Alamos

I grew up in the most beautiful house in the world.  It was built in the latter part of the nineteenth century as a lodge for the Ancient Hibernian Society — I always mean to look them up.  Anyhow, for a long time it served as shelter for the Irish new to America.  

A century and a half came and went and in the summer of 2002 I found myself alone with two toddlers there for the month of April trying to think what to keep.  It was a gorgeous month filled with trips to the lake, endless tornado warnings, and all the blossoms which make Southern Ohio lovely.  I got practically nothing sorted and ended up keeping very little.

It was scary too.  The neighborhood suffered the fate shared by so many in the Rust Belt.  Drugs, drink, prostitution, despair.   The people down a block or so disliked their daughter-in-law so they murdered, dismembered, and fed her to their half dozen or so pitbulls.  Stories like this were fairly common.  The nice man next door reminded me that April that if I called the police not to expect them to actually come but to remind them I had a gun and knew how to use it.

After the 2016 election I wondered what had happened.  How had Ohio grown so red?  I looked up those I had graduated with and discovered that almost to a person they went MAGA.  Even my cousin, David, son of a UAW organizer had become an employee of the Donald.  What fed this hate?  We were all schooled by the same Catholic nuns who were truly inspiring women.

I no longer read the Springfield Daily News ever.  Early in the pandemic their headlines went national.  They needed those mobile morgue trucks to store all the victims of Covid and the opioid crises.  I feel guilty sometimes for having left.  My dream had always been to hold on to the house of my father and great grandfathers but sometimes you just have to let dreams go.

So we made our life in Los Alamos.  This town has given us a truly good life.  It’s always easy to judge others in this whole debate over the town’s future.  Who wants affordable housing, who doesn’t, who wants to grow the town, who hates the idea.  Whatever comes to pass, the implications of this debate are huge.  Throwing stones at others for their opinions is a bit too pat.

My daughters are both long distance runners.  They run in the day.  They run at night. They run in the neighborhoods.  They run in the canyons.  I noticed during lockdown that when we would make a big deal of going to the grocery store together that they know practically all of the LAPD.  

They always talked to them while out running I guess.  Where I grew up to run alone even during the day was pretty much an invitation to disaster.  I know, I tried.  I have never gotten used to life in an affluent community.