Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Bitter and the Sweet

Needless to say, April went by in a blink of an eye, days full of springish activities like soccer games, swinging in the park, first barbeque's and baseball practices and splashing through mud and puddles. Leaf buds are filling out, grass is wet and green and the daffodils and tulips are opening to the longer, warmer days. Spring is arriving stubbornly, in fits and starts with rain storms, flash floods, tornadoes, talk of snow on the news and a spattering of lovely sunny days.

Today is one of them. We are cleaning out the basement and attic, washing down the sandbox and bike trailer, getting out sand toys, sidewalk chalk and the old wagon. The attic is filled with boxes labeled and ready for a move next month into our first home. The excitement is palpable. We are moving not far but in manner a world away. I will miss this neighborhood we have called home for the last six years, the kids Juj's age we carpool with, the art gallery across the street, the little Italian restaurant on the corner, and of course, the yard with strawberries, mulberries, peonies, pines trees and the towering elm.

This place where not far, not long ago, I was a child running through yards and homes, walking to school, playing at the parks, pulling a wagon on my own paper route. A place in flux, with people and movements coming through and moving on. A place currently working and struggling to maintain an identity of unification and diversity with youthful, creative energy, but plagued with stubborn underlying racism, poverty and hopelessness.

And for me a place of tension, where I learned not to look people in the eye, not to draw attention to myself, not to linger too long in the early dusk, and never to be alone at night. A place where I learned not to get too attached to friends who often moved or schools and teachers which inevitably changed. Where I learned not to want the hassle of having anything nice, like bikes that were stolen over and over and over again. A world complex beyond a child's understanding of race and inequity and all the murky fallout of anger, resentment, failed social programs and distrust. But now I leave this place with an adult's understanding, though still struggling not to take threats and losses as personal, still grappling with the depth of our fractured society and the havoc it wreaks on our souls.

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