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In 1963, from the Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

I’m sure it was not a coincidence that these words of Dr. King, “What affects one…affects all”, were on the cover of the program from the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee’s 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration that Todd texted me a picture of this morning. Who doesn’t need to be reminded daily of their importance?

On days like today, I wish I were a journalist and could write a good news story.

But I am just a girl with a pen. Never does a day go by that I don’t spend a good part of it noticing the shadow my hand creates on my paper, right thumb and forefinger resting on my sharpie roller 0.5 as it glides across the page. I used to use nothing but #2 0.9mm retractable pencils but that got messy and took more effort. My hands hurt, so the lighter I have to press the better. But I digress. See? That’s why I’m not a journalist.

How I, overall, reacted to the situation we found ourselves in this morning was directly related to the fact that it’s Martin Luther King Day.

My chair sits in front of our front window, an old floor lamp from the cabin sits to my right, hence the shadows on my paper.

I’m well aware of the action on the street. Sometimes I feel a little like “Millie” the nosy neighbor on some sitcom? we watched as kids, who was always peering out the window and telling her husband “Herb”? what was going on next door.

But that’s not me, I sit facing away from the window. Anyone who looks in will (usually) see the back of my head. But still, I notice the cars parked that keep accumulating on the street on our end of the block and in front of our house. We have two VRBOS across from us now. They keep accumulating too. If I play Millie, I can see right into their windows. But I don’t play Millie. Honestly.

Our very kind neighbors who planted beautiful flowers all around the house directly across from us were kicked out at the end of their lease so that the new owner, a woman attorney (not that I have anything against attorneys), could rent out the duplex weekly or weekendly, as the case may be and pack it full, the more the merrier, with non family members. Ditto for the owner next store just north. Of course we know why. Everyone has to make a living, right?

So the neighborhood is going to pot, as my mom would say. Who cares if the tenants party all night, hang out on the porch drinking and talking loudly. It’s no concern to the owners. This past summer we had fire trucks show up with flashing lights, sirens and paramedics at 1:00 A.M. This morning, Todd had to be at the Celebration at 7:00 and someone parked their car in front of our driveway.

Todd wrote to the Manager of the VRBO who was kind enough to give us his card after the fire truck fiasco which happened to be the very first VRBO renter, but nada, nothing, not a peep.

“There oughta be a law,” I said coming in the front door with Fannie who literally ran the entire walk in her new snow boots. It’s cold.

“The engine is running in the car in front of the car blocking our driveway,” I continued, “and I nicely tapped on the very tinted driver’s window that I could see absolutely nothing through, to check if perhaps they might be able to help. But nothing. Nada.” Not a peep out of that car with the engine warming. “I did get an eery feeling though that if I were to knock harder, the window could roll down with a gun pointing in my face. So I didn’t knock harder.”

“That was wise,” Todd said.

These help but she still limps in this weather.

And there are more VRBOS happening all around us. Do they help the economy? Is there a better way? Because they’re hurting our neighborhoods. Everything has a price. Right? Todd says the Aldermen hope to do something about it after the next election.

For all I know, you may support VRBOS taking over our neighborhoods, but that’s just it, they are taking over our neighborhoods and creating as much lack of relationship building as social media. I think there oughta be a law, but I’m just a girl with a pen.

As for me and my house, we join in celebrating the life and work of this noble man, prominent leader, Baptist minister, politician, philosopher, Civil Rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King who also said, “Hate is too great a burden to bear, I have decided to love.”

And with reading his words, my aggravation fell like scales. That’s the thing about love. What compares? What outlasts it? Choosing anything but love is a great burden.


Photo credits: Joshua Rawson-Harris, globe; stack of good books, Tim Wildsmith, Unsplash

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