We’re pleased to feature this reader’s response to one of our For Your Journal writing prompts.
Cecilia Wu shares these thoughts about her neighborhood:
Journal Entry: Compare your childhood neighborhood with that of your child’s. Do you live in the same community in which you were raised? The same area of the country? How are the activities and opportunities your child has different from those of your childhood? Can you say one is better than another?
It has been two years that we’ve made our home in an idyllic college town in the southeast. Having spent our lives in hectic, urban centers, my husband – a Japanese national – and I – a U.S. expat living in Japan for almost a decade – craved a calmer and more balanced way of life. We trusted, too, that a gentler, slower, and greener childhood could prove differently but equally valuable to our son as compared to the stimuli and sophistication of the larger cities.
We live in a neighborhood of children – mixed raced children, hyphenated Americans, children of expats. Perhaps by coincidence or demographics, the majority of the children on our street are the same age as our son. They go to the same public school. Three seasons a year out of four the children can be found playing outside until dark. The rare snowfall brings them out too, and Halloween is a joyous block party. Unassuming and modest, and focusing on the kids, last night’s game, or the latest headlines, the parents, all geographic transplants, find kinship in one another through the shared values and educational and professional backgrounds that have brought them to the same community. While watching the children outside and chatting, the adults flock to any child who falls, cries, or needs a drink of water. There is a shared understanding that the neighborhood kids are all our kids.
The neighborhood sounds ideal because that is the way I see it. It is what I would have wanted as a child if I had known that such places existed outside of the movies. I had grown up in a very different neighborhood, not because my parents didn’t want the same thing for me, but because, as new immigrants, they had no means of making it possible. I rarely went out to play because of the trash that was piled by our front door. I held my breath walking down the street because of the homeless mentally ill whom I used to be so frightened of. I retreated into my books and drawings at home because of the gunshots that went off from time to time, sometimes from the next street over, once from outside my bedroom window.
The neighborhood we live in now is the one I have dreamt of being able to give my child…a home worth waiting forty years and moving across an ocean for.
Cecilia can be reached at ceciwrites(at)gmail(dot)com.