My Home Town

I had not planned to drive through the town of my up-bringing on our way to drop my daughter off at school in Michigan. I don’t have any family there now and have not kept contact with any of my childhood friends. I didn’t really see any reason to take a trip down memory lane. I did however want to revisit my favorite pizza place on earth. And that is how we ended up in South Bend on Tuesday afternoon.

Todd thought that we should go by my old house, see the area – show my kids where I grew up. I agreed, although I am not a huge fan of “relive the past”. I was surprised that I did not get lost while driving to my old house. I was surprised at how familiar everything felt. And I was also surprised at what a disaster the whole neighborhood was. It was worse than the few parts of East St. Louis we had seen the day before. Boarded up windows? Check. Furniture on the porches? Check. Drunks milling around the corner gas station? Check. The sad part is that I think it was always that bad, I just had no perspective…no other way of life to compare it to.

Memory is a funny thing. My old house and yard seemed so much smaller than I remember. The path to my old school – shorter. The neighborhood – more compact. The area – more run-down. I loved driving through the rest of the town, walking along the East Race, eating at Barnaby’s. I liked seeing all of the familiar places from my youth. But I cannot help thinking about how lucky I was to come out of such poverty in such good shape.