Grand Opening

People often ask, “where do you work?” It is one of those questions that everyone wants to know, maybe because they can think of little else that would prefer to know instead, or because maybe they sense from my presence that I am a Guy with a Story.

Say, for example, that I am at a dinner party. There’s a tv on in another room. Susie is in the kitchen with a friend. And I’m out in the living room. Sprawled out like a tamale in the sun.

“Where do you work?” says the Other Husband.

I am not sure if he actually wants to know. He is not looking at me. He sits way back in his soft couch, a finger lingering on a remote. He is waiting for dinner.

We are two lame non-cookers. Kind of like those pirates who don’t do anything. Except we watch kids.

“Oh, I work at CRA-NC.”

His eyes continue to follow his son. The toddler, about 3 as far as I can tell, nears a lamp. This furrows his brow. He looks back at me for a second. His lips open, but no words come out. As if my words have failed to spark a signal synapse of interest.

“You know,” I say, “The Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina. CRA-NC.”

This does not advance his understanding. It does shorten whatever window of interest existed. If my answer led to dinner, now that would be interesting.

But I go on, because now that I am married, I have grown accustomed to droning on when no one is listening.

“We work on housing policy. We work on manufactured housing. I have a book on manufactured housing. We think manufactured housing can lead to opportunities for asset building. We organize. We have alternative media products. I work on HMDA data. We just got a loan from the FHLB. CRA-NC works with CFED.”

I have totally blinded him. Maybe I can clear it up for him:

“CRA-NC,” I say, is not unlike ACORN.”
But…CRA-NC did have some big news the other day. We opened our new building officially. Last year we bought a ransacked 1920 brick building in the otherwise disinvested streets of North Central Durham. Since then, we’ve been fixing it up. On Friday, we opened it to the public.

It was a great day, with jazz music and karaoke. I have some pictures of the day. Notice who is sitting in with the band.


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