Alamitos and 2nd — From There to There
2009-10-09 · By Editor
By Jennifer Williams
What neighborhood is it, exactly? 2nd street and Alamitos, on the edge of downtown, not quite the 4th street arts district …
A long street of duplexes, four-plexes, and apartment buildings, a world of diversity. One short little Spanish building was painted in bold red and yellow, adobe tiling running down the roof. The one next to it would be three stories, severe, and sport a Japanese name. We could see the ocean from our corner; five minutes in any direction would put us at the Pike, Belmont Shore, MOLAA, downtown …
It was so different from Houston. New, exciting. But our first night in Long Beach, we fought. My husband insisted that here, people left their windows open at night. This was, Manny pointed out, a state where the weather was actually kind rather than cruel. Born and raised in Houston, I was sure this was an invitation for hypothetically waiting thieves. So, in pursuit of answers, I approached my new neighbors. After some polite hellos, I asked anxiously if this was the sort of neighborhood where one could leave the windows open at night.
They all looked to one man for the reply. Lawrence has lived here for years. A poet, and veteran, he holds the respect of everyone on the street. He pointed a gnarled hand towards Bonito. “Do you see that street there?” he intoned. “From there to” the hand slid to the right “there, this stretch of street – that’s our neighborhood. And we take care of those who live and dwell here. We look out after each other. Do you see that car?” And the hand shifted down. “That man, he’s in the navy. He lives” the hand shifted again “there.” And so he pointed out to me every car, and told me of each owner, and showed me which window was theirs. “This is our part of the city,” he assured me. “There are no worries here.”
Worries were yet to come. Six weeks after our arrival, my husband was involved in a motorcycle accident, breaking his arm, shattering his knee, and dislocating his shoulder. We have no family here, no friends – what we did have was two small children and very little resources.
The outpouring of support was immediate and immense. When I needed to rush Manny to the emergency room, my neighbors stayed with my children. When we needed help simply getting into the house, neighbors helped carry Manny inside. People whose names I cannot recall stopped at the store for me, offered to make phone calls, gave advice, gave love, smiles, hope.
“I told you,” Lawrence told me, on his way to challenge Manny to a chess match. “From there” the hand gestured “to there, this is our neighborhood.”
Everything is going to change for us. But for a few months, I lived in the most amazing neighborhood in Long Beach. A small place, from there – to there – our little part of the city, where we look out for our own.