The neighbors were cold and then they were warm.  My childhood home can be described in this way, pure and simply.  Our first next-door neighbors were outright mean and adversarial.  They moved.  The family who moved in their stead happened to be the warmest people I’ve ever encountered.  It felt like a home away from home.  The home that I yearned for.  A taste of comfort in a swallowing abyss of nonsense as Los Angeles struggled through the 1980s.  There was food, comfort, togetherness, fellowship, laughter—these necessary elements of human existence—that were found here in abundance.  This family struggled and discussed their struggles to me allowing me into their world that I didn’t quite understand.  There were parties, fights, and jokes flying around like a speeding jet.  I couldn’t quite keep up with the news in my neighborhood—Pinney Street, Arleta, California.

After I moved to Palm Desert in 1993, I used to drop by the neighborhood—sometimes as planned, and sometimes unannounced because I wanted to know how these people were doing.  I cared about all of these people.  I felt like I was a part of their community.  I think I’ve gone through every shade of emotion trying to connect with this community.  And there seemed to always be a birthday being celebrated, or a story to be rehashed, or a show or game to be watched in unison with a bunch of people who grew up in and around this neighborhood.  I used to watch with amusement as the older generations commiserated as if they were still High School buddies, living out their glory days.  They experienced their youth in the 1970s and 1980s when most my generation was busy being born.  I always wonder what unresolved issue was being brought up way past the point of time that it actually happened and mattered.

The last time I went back to the neighborhood was in 2007 before turning 28 years old.  At that point, I decided I must leave the neighborhood altogether—everyone, every character, every love interest, every unresolved question—everything.  I was enrolled at UCLA for Graduate School hoping to make it through a stressful time in my life.  In Graduate School, I learned that the world will not wait for you to finish up and start something of yourself—Bill Collectors need to make a living too, and my empty pockets were their business.  I learned how to persevere, locking myself up almost literally in the Young Research Library trying to make sense of my classes and the books I was reading.  I stopped working and was lucky to have my dad invite me back into his home.

To describe Pinney Street is to describe the playground for every impression I first had in this world.  I remember the two trees in front of our house that would be our favorite hangout and hiding place for Hide-and-Go-Seek.  We used to etch our nicknames on their poor trunks.  We used to watch the leaves fall and grow as the seasons progressed.  It seemed like my Dad would have his latest bad investment parked out in front of these trees in perpetuity.  There was always something odd growing out of my house like the great outdoors.  There was just so much going on.  The neighborhood would smile at us if they knew we made it.  Our end of Pinney Street was a small cul-de-sac filled with quiet, sleepy homes.  We played Baseball out front on summer afternoons, launching Tennis Balls into people’s pools until we ran out for the day.  I fashioned myself to be a crafty pitcher without any hitting prowess.  I was never a great athlete because I’m uncoordinated and become easily lost in my mind.  Pinney Street will always exist in my heart.

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    Selim Bouhamidi Sketches: Selim's blog. 
    Who am I?  
    Writer and thinker, Urban Planner and Anthropologist.  Lover of sports, movies, and music.  Had to get lost a couple of times to find my way but I am home every step I take.    

    What are sketches?
    These are sketches, portraits, graceful words about the grace all around us.  I want to show you this world through my eyes.  These are all working pieces because I am a work in progress or constantly working.  These aren't meant to be perfect.  Sometimes I write out every emotion I have even if they mess with my readers.  I am who I am.  These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

    I love Magpie and J.


    October 2013
    September 2013
    August 2013