Going back to the hood

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 27, 2004, 7:57 PM | comments: 0
Stephanie and I met a friend in the Ohio City area of Cleveland for brunch yesterday. It's interesting to see how much better that area of Cleveland has become in the last decade or so.

Since we weren't far from my childhood home, I decided to drive by my old house. Before I even got there, it was weird. The streets seem smaller and more narrow. Everything seems dumpy. The Convenient Food Mart is still at the corner of W. 47 and Storer, surprisingly enough. On the street itself, most of the houses have been repainted.

My old house is still there, with different siding, an eight-foot fence in the driveway, and maybe some new windows. Otherwise, it pretty much looks like a dump. I suppose it was a dump when I lived there too. Indeed that was the case with most of the houses on that block.

Further down the street, on the site of my old elementary school, is a block of new houses. It's weird that you look at one side of the street and it's familiar, yet the other side is not. It's a bright spot in an otherwise bleak neighborhood.

As I passed the corner where I did safety patrol, I couldn't help but try to find some context. This was my life prior to Stephanie, to most of high school, to college, my friends, my travels, my careers, everything that I know. It was a place that offered stark contrast to the subdivision of new homes I live in now.

But I came from this place. It's the house where we had food stamps. Where I played in the sandbox in the back yard (and kids stole my little trucks). Where I climbed in the apple tree. Where we were robbed. Where I wrote my first computer program. Where I collected comic books and played with Transformer toys.

Life wasn't that great at the time, but I managed to get through it. High school in the suburbs was safer, but I'm not sure it was better. I don't think I started to realize the potential life could have until I got to college. Every year it became more clear that with the ability to do anything, came the responsibility of taking advantage of doing anything.

The drive down W. 47 gave me a lot of perspective, and I've been thinking about it ever since. So many memories and feelings rushing back with a freshness that's almost scary. At the same time, I can see so many things that I've long since let go of, and thought of other things that I still hang on to. It's crazy that you can pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses to events in your life.

Bah. So much rambling. I thank God for my life, even the really horrible parts. Without the bad parts, how can you know what's really good, or how fortunate you've been? I feel really good about the decisions I've made so far, and hope that I have the courage to correct the things about me that still aren't right.


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