Can You Go Back Home?
THERE IS THE EXIT UP AHEAD. You turn on your blinker and move over to the right hand lane. As you drive down the off ramp, you are feeling excited. What will the old neighborhood look like?
You are not even all the way down the ramp, before you already see a new addition. There beside the road is a car that has been stripped down to its frame. You slowly drive by and, looking in through its broken out windows, you see wine bottles and trash, indicating that this wreck has been sitting here awhile. The shock of seeing something like this in your old neighborhood never quite gets a chance to fully register, because you now notice that the houses here are badly in need of paint and other repairs. You also notice that while the shutters have mostly disappeared altogether, there are enough of them left, hanging on precariously at various odd angles, to show that they were originally part of these houses. In the yards you see filth of every description, and the term "run down" jumps to mind but you immediately reject it as being entirely too tame, a complete understatement.
Your heavy heart, so eager to enjoy thinking over those warm childhood memories, using the treasured landmarks from your past as a catalyst to pull them forth, can only feel extreme sadness. Your mind denies that this is your neighborhood. You must have taken a wrong turn. You see dark faces eyeing you from the sidewalks and front porches along the street. They do not look happy to see you. You are slammed back into reality when you pass Tommy's old house. The fence that you tried to jump, which caught your toe on the way over, and caused you to fall and break your arm, is gone. A couple of the fence posts remain but have been broken off half way down. Up there, straight ahead, is number 2234 where you used to live.
It is almost like seeing a loved one laying on the ground, bruised and beaten, whom you can just barely recognize behind all of the injuries. The color of your house is changed, but so much of the paint is peeling off, that it is hard to determine what the color is today. One of the front windows is covered with plywood and the other has a crack in it. The screen door is ripped and it is hanging by only one hinge. The front door behind it has a hole kicked into it, and there are 3 dark children sitting on what were once your front steps. It is clear from the look on their faces that they do not think you belong in this neighborhood.
As you drive passed, you wonder how many times it was that you had run out of that very door, and down those steps. You would head down the street to Tommy's place, and off the two of you would go to the park to play ball with the other kids. If you came back after dark, there was no thought of anything worse happening to you than a scolding for not being home on time. If you researched it you would find that there is more crime on this street in one night today, than in an entire year when you had lived here.
You turn right at the next corner and your heart sinks once again as you spy Washington High School up the street on the left. The fence around it looks both new but torn up as well. Rust and dirt have not had time to settle in at all on the chain link, but parts of it have been pulled away from the poles and spray paint has discolored large strips of it. All of the windows of the school have bars on them and the grounds are in terrible shape. You look at the place where the name "Washington" was once carved into the facing of the front of the building, and are shocked to see that the name of the school has been changed to Martin Luther King Jr. High School.
You drive past a few other landmarks which you knew very well as a child. Each of them has suffered the decay of neglect and abuse. They are pitiful shadows of what they were when you lived here. A cluster of teenagers, glare at you as you are looking at the park which they are hanging out in. You see the bare patches of ground where once a healthy lawn had thrived, and to the left a dilapidated set of monkey bars, chipped and rusting, stands like a ruin, reminding passers by that a greater civilization once was here. The teenagers see something, that they do not like any better than you like what has become of your neighborhood: a white face. They start yelling obscenities at you, and let you know that "honkies" are not welcome in this town any longer. A glass bottle flies through the air and bounces off another derelict car which is located between you and the kids, and somehow it fails to shatter as it comes to rest beside other debris laying there. You accelerate away and head back to the highway.
How could this have happened? This was a thriving, healthy community, filled with decent happy folks. They were not perfect, but they were civilized. They took care of their homes and their neighborhoods. The people who live here now do not care about their homes, their children, their school or the true national heroes of our country. They hate the race which created America. You are angry at what they have done to your home. But what can you do about it?
As you approach your home, a number of miles away from your old neighborhood, you notice that the houses are painted, the cars parked along the side of the road, have all of their tires still mounted, and their windows are all intact. The folks walking along the side of the road have White faces, and they do not look at you like they would like to slit your throat. There is very little crime in your neighborhood today. It is very much like the one was, which you just visited today, when you lived there as a child.
Perhaps herein lies a clue to what you can do. Maybe there really is something that can be done to protect your neighborhood of today from becoming just like your childhood neighborhood now is. Perhaps you may even be able to help create a situation where your old neighborhood can be restored to health.
You walk into your house and sit down at your computer. After you sign on to the Internet, you hunt around and suddenly you stumble onto the solution you were looking for. You find The Plan and you know what you have to do.
You think to yourself, "Just 8 new people. I can get 8 new people!"