Mountain Brook to West End

It’s been a day of extremes.

I met a good friend who is nearing the end of radiation treatments for breast cancer for lunch in a quaint Italian restaurant located in Crestline Village in the suburb of Mountain Brook. This particular burb is known in this part of the world as a place of privilege, consistently ranked as having one of the highest per capitas in the U.S. Mansions line winding roads, and each of the “villages” that make up the commercial district is characterized by boutiques, specialty shops, and unique restaurants–you know, the kind you can walk in and out of without a word from anyone occupying the counter.

Following lunch in Mountain Brook, I made my way to Edwina’s apartment in West End, in an area called Arlington. Her apartment lies just a few blocks from a large city cemetery, and numerous funeral homes, monument and flower shops, and churches circle around Edwina’s neighborhood.

From a commercial perspective, business folks in this area seem to know their market. Shootings are a common occurence in West End. Many residents spend their lives walking the streets around Arlington (in part, because the family car’s broken, out of gas, or been confiscated by one or another quick cash/title loan companies) and end up (much too soon) in the graveyard. The houses in this area are far from mansions–those still standing reveal make-shift roofs, broken windows and doors, and porches that sit at an angle–looking like they’re just waiting for the opportunity to collapse.

Today, the contrast between the “Brookies” and the “West Enders” was more immediate than usual.

I pulled into the parking lot of Edwina’s apartment building to find her husband Tyrone (who’s apparently back in Edwina’s good graces), brother Joe-Joe, and Alexis from the upstairs apartment (I’m still trying to sort out the relationship there) sitting outside keeping watch over a slew of items: an old bicycle helmet, clothes, a crockpot, random knick-knacks and side tables, to name a few.

“What are you guys doing?” I asked them. “Having a garage sale?”

“Yep,” Tyrone chimed in. “We tryin’.”

I headed inside and chatted with Edwina for a bit, getting an update on everything from her boy’s latest run-ins with an ex-girlfriend to how well she’s doing with losing some weight. On the way out, I paused to take another look at some of the items up for sale in the front yard.

Turns out, the sale officially starts tomorrow. While there won’t be an announcement in the classifieds, Tyrone’s sister was on her way to help make up some signs to post along the road.

“We’ll be taking this stuff inside tonight and then bringing it all back out again in the morning,” Joe-Joe told me.

“We don’t want anything gettin’ stolen,” Tyrone said, adding with a smirk that “Miss Ryan, in this neighborhood, they steal it right out in the daylight.”

“I think that happens just about anywhere,” I told him, turning towards my car.

Well, maybe not in Mountain Brook.

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