Living in the oldest historic district in Pensacola has been a true discovery year for me. Yes, it will soon be one year since I made the decision to downsize, move lock, stock, and barrel to this little house on Belmont Street in the Old East Hill Neighborhood.
What have I learned? First, the old district is diverse…in living styles, dwellings, and personal persuasions. For example, I live next door to a large house inhabited by 20-somethings, five in all, who are working in the food and music industries. They have been very respectful of the “older lady next door” and live an active life, going and coming at all times of the day and night. Their cars are parked on the lawn, and scrunched in along the street so part of my block looks like a parking lot. There is a toilet parked under a huge oak in the back yard making some kind of statement which to date eludes me.
On the other side of my perch is Ya Ya, a long-time resident who has seen renters like me come and go like the tidal rhythms on the Gulf. He’s what my parents would call a “prince of a man” with a strong set of personal mores and religious beliefs. He often points to various houses in our surround with only the statement, “Sodom and Gommorah,” delivered with a shake of his head and the tone of a man who has given up on the moral character of the world around him. Still, he has been a wonderful neighbor, taking care of my place when I go away, and just enjoying the great weather and outdoor goings on with me and other neighbors. He knows the deeper history of the neighborhood having lived in it for nearly 70 years. According to him, everyone had fruit and nut trees in the old days which people cared for and harvested to share. Satsuma, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, and pecans. I have a date palm and grapefruit.
So, living in “Little House” is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but for some reason I like the diverse nature of it. Up one block on La Rua, there is definitely a higher income bracket, nicer homes than where my little home sits. Belmont Street runs east- west; I am at the eastern edge which is supposedly more affluent. As a semi-retired writer, I can’t count myself among them, but I am “making it” according to my own standards. I just got a publisher for my first published novel (at age 70!) and a new published anthology includes my essays. So I might begin to see some tiny royalty checks roll in by the end of this New Year. And, I am now working on the plot and characters for a second novel which will be based in Pensacola. This time I will not take 10 years to complete it as I did with Threshold, my soon to be released novel about climate change in the Southwest. However, the way the plot is going, I might be run out of town when the new book is published! There is mischief brewing in the Little House on Belmont Street! Happy New Year All!