Using a house created from my past as a template for the NoEnd House posts. This post deals with more than a specific room. This is the street view, the street forming yet another room in my NoEnd house. A perspective through the filter of ten wordle words.
Our neighbourhood resisted re-gentrification. We fought it daily as the old stores and rooming houses were reclaimed for the rich who once lived here. Piers and docks rotting piles of wood. Blasted by time and longshoremen. A charcoal sketch of our street-view. The black and white of skewed knowledge and logic.
The weekend silence of our neighbourhood was deafening. The 20th century silence frightening. When you live in prime real estate, you tremble at the sound of heavy equipment, the appearance of wooden construction fences.
Five simalacrumious houses in a row. Inside ours, rooms into rooms into rooms. Attic where I lived down to kitchen where the bread was baked. Narrow house. Living up and down, not side to side. Common back courtyard of depilated out-buildings and grown-over gardens. We kept ours green and carefully pulled the weeds overtaking much of back yards.
We sought to preserve the ghosts of lifetimes. To be considerate of all who once called the street, the house home. We had copies of wills, estates, maps, city directories, house history of ownership. All to prove that our 20th century lives were lived in an 18th century house.
Bureaucracy with bleary eyes and no imagination would, if documentation found, and with street-wide co-operation achieved, consider application as a historical street view. Then, our house, and its neighbours could not be demolished or facades substantively changed.
Meantime, we followed the preservation board’s instructions, each bringing our expertise to the project. I worked with our historical engineer bread-baker on providing a street history, and placing in with the context of broader history. Marcus, ever the incredible orator, spoke with current owners, neighbours, boards and bureaucracies. Jayne, the artist, recreated our street at proximate times in it’s life. Greg, an environmentalist and alterative economist, organized fund-raising including performances by Mary (the in and out and in boarder) the conservatory-trained street musician and her circle of friends.
Like Orpheus, we gained entry into historical preservation but that last look meant re-gentrification forced us out of the house we loved, off the street we had saved. We had to pay the price for not being able to pay the price. The facades face onto the street, fixed and painted, thus three of the four restored, and the remaining two given boundaries for development.
I’ve only been back once – to take pictures of the expensive apartments, condos, suites that filled a once magical space. One block that held the history of a city on its front steps.
Gone are the house parties, the street parties, the joy and the sorrows we shared. A place where we ate suppers and told anecdotes. The tears and laughter. Music, mime, and melancholy. Where I learned living/being alone wasn’t the only way to live/to be. The street, the street view formed the fourth room in my house, in our world.
Kenopsia is a theme that runs through this story. These kenopsias seem obvious to me having been part of this tale. There is the economic bustling vs depilation; the noise of street of “ordinary” folks sharing each other’s lives to the quiet of the re-gentrification separation. Of a house representing the lasting on a street mirroring, embracing, then distancing it’s self. Of a street frozen in time barely escaping decent of the modern. Of a place that has seen bustling and quiet times. Truly the history of the city on it’s door steps. Historical preservation of a street bringing quiet once again. A type of quiet never achieved before.