The Low 

I used to live in low income housing. When I was fifteen. With my family. On purpose.

No, we weren’t poor. Just cheap, I guess.

It all started as a joke. To kick off another year in high school, I had to tell the class what I did over the summer. What was the biggest thing that happened? Well, me and my family moved from a nice, fancy house to an apartment complex that housed some interesting characters.

Like the guys in our building who were busted by the cops for running a prostitution ring. Or the guy behind my apartment who attempted to kill himself with a gunshot to the face. That’s right, I said ATTEMPTED.

Imagine being on the phone with a special female and ending the conversation abruptly with: “I just heard a gunshot, I’ve gotta go.”

That's right, it's a real deal-closer.

So anyhow, it became fondly known as low income housing, AKA “The Low.” An apartment that housed a family of four and a dog quickly became a prison cell where you couldn’t escape anyone or anything.

The Mexican children who lived above were, for a majority of my stay there, engaged in hurdling exercises on a daily basis, stomping above as they trained for border-hopping. These daily jumping routines were only cut short by the beating supplied by their current father. Never have I supported child abuse by a stepdad so wholeheartedly.

Sadly, this whole “low” joke wasn’t far from the truth. A mere few months into our stay at this palace of decadence, the government bought East Lake Club Apartments and turned it into – you guessed it – low income housing.

The Low was a humble abode that was nice and centrally located with plenty of free parking spots. When you have a bunch of buddies who want to do something on the weekend, it made for a good meeting location where everyone could park their cars and pile into one. Plus it was right behind the movie theater. Living in Hell has its benefits, you know. But you still have to deal with the daily torture.

I could tell a million stories. But sometimes the simplest and easiest ones are the best.

Like with my dad. Moving from a big house to a small apartment led to a large amount of crap being placed in a garage just a few steps from the apartment. Housed in that tightly packed-garage was a second, fully-functional refrigerator and a full weight set.

On a relatively daily basis, pops would go out to the garage, open it up, and pull the weights into the street. And proceed to work out. In front of everyone in the complex.

The local Mexicans who ran the prostitution ring called him “Big Guy.” It’s nice to know that out of all the characters in the neighborhood, my family was one of the most respected. High class recognizes high class, obviously.

Imagine driving home to your humble abode and finding a man in the middle of your road lifting weights. He's wearing a sleeveless shirt that simply says “JAM,” with no further description available on the backside.

That's right. It was that kind of sight.

And, as I’m sure you can tell, the Low, as well as my shameless family, provided enough material for me to go on for days. The Low was and is a life changing experience. Every locale I’ve lived in since has since acquired a name based on the Low: the house I lived in before the Low is the Pre-Low, the house back home now is the Anti-Low, because it’s pretty fucking sweet, unlike the Low. And then there’s the often asked about “Temp Low,” of which myths and legends swirl. The Low is that kind of place - it leaves an impact on you, good or bad.

But it’s a good lesson to be learned: Don’t think that bad neighborhoods are just for shady characters - like that “50 Cent” you kids listen to. In fact, even future white collar criminals such as myself have, at one point, lived next door to a whorehouse.

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2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes