Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thank God I'm a City Girl

I am a country girl and a loner.  If I had my druthers, we'd be living on acres of land, raising livestock and reading books, devoid of any and all human interaction beside what was absolutely necessary, and considering a bigger place the minute we saw traces of smoke from the neighboring ranch's fireplace.  I don't like concrete, traffic, noise, light pollution or the smell of steam from a hot dog vending cart.  I like grass stains on my butt, rich black soil under my nails, driving 30 minutes on winding country roads to get to a grocery store -- the grocery store, and the "woody" smell of horse manure.  That being said, God is good.

As it stands now, from my bedroom window I can see at least six houses without really trying.  The brick and concrete that makes up our home smells musty and pungent with the humidity, and I can usually tell who is barbecuing, who is cooking greens and who is having Italian by the direction of the breeze.  The neighbors who aren't double-parking are parking over our drive; those who aren't screaming to their boys down the street are blasting Notorious B.I.G. until my ears bleed.  If the kids aren't dropping their trash on our front steps as they walk home from school, they're standing in the middle of the street defying you to hit them, as you drive to one of the six convenience stores in the area because you don't feel like going "all that way" (2 miles) to any one of the five grocery stores .  That being said, God is good.

Just last week a fire devastated apartments in South Philadelphia.  From what I've heard, 14 families were displaced; nothing was left.  Saturday a drive was held at 2nd & Jackson for the victims of the fire -- donations of cash, gift cards, clothing, electronics, toiletries, food and toys for the families that were left with nothing more than the clothing on their backs.  One of the victims was present --a young man who jumped from the building, was hospitalized, and was driven to the event by a hospital worker yesterday.

Scott and the girls and I arrived about an hour after the drive had begun, our little bags seeming so inconsequential to us.  As we neared the park and saw the flurry of activity, the columns of green plastic bags stacked against the chainlink fence, the friendly faces of neighbors and volunteers...  Well, it was moving.  Generosity had lit its lamp in the hearts of so many people.  A mail carrier stopped in the middle of the street to unload his bounty; not one person raged or steamed about the traffic and chaos.  People of all ages milled about, wanting to do so much more, to reach out to others in need, to stay here in this sphere of humanity rather than return to a world of of hate speech and petty gripes, dirty sidewalks and noise pollution.  Here on the playground it had all come together -- we could believe in one another, we could trust in the charity and kindness of others.  We were acutely aware, not just of the needs of others, but of ours as well.  Here, in the city I learned, once again, I am a part of something.             

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