Changes: When Did These Happen?

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Taking a walk today proved more than enlightening. Living in a neighborhood for practically all my life I have seen too many changes. Unfortunately, most are not very positive. The area has drastically changed.

The building I live in is not taken care of properly. The people are quite unfriendly and no one seems to want to be friends or even say hello to anyone that is not part of their culture. How Sad!

Growing up I learned that everyone is the same and that kids are kids no matter what race you are or what religion you practice. Everyone played in the street together. Everyone walked to school as a group and no one ever worried about getting hurt or threatened. I grew up in the South Bronx and was never afraid to go anywhere at any time of day. Not so anymore anywhere.

I moved from there many years ago to an area that was really nice, in a development that was just built with a landlord that made sure the buildings were clean, well lit and with elevators that actually worked. Never having to worry about bad smells in the halls, or people coming up in the elevators and sleeping on the roof of the buildings or vagrants. Now, it is unwise to do a lot of things alone and you really can’t walk out at night alone.

Walking around you get to see how things changed. The storeowners used to wave at people when they saw them go past. The people on the street used to smile and say hello. Kids were polite and actually held doors. Some even carried packages for older people in the supermarkets. Now, it is really smart to wait until they are in school or you might get mowed down while groups of them are going to school and complaining all the way. Education is something my mom and dad valued and made sure my sister, brother and I had.

Setting the bar really high for all three of us and making sure that our grades were high enough to be on the honor roll. Anything less was unacceptable to my mom. Sounds tough: She was! But, no worse for the wear and I think that she had the right idea. I never complained about having to do homework or study for tests. She expected me to get A’s and I lived up to her expectations. Difficult as they might seem.

Watching the teens go to school today is quite enlightening. Walking in pairs and in large groups, smoking cigarettes or stopping at the deli to hand in their IPODS or CELLPHONES (not allowed in school) you listen to their conversations and you begin to wonder what will happen to them ten years from now when they are adults and have to care for themselves. Most of them don’t see it. Some think they will become the next NBA star while others on the NFL. The girls think they will be discovered or meet rich guys to spoon feed them and give them everything they want. Dream on! Others are so concerned about having boyfriends that will do anything to make it happen even take the abuse and rudeness of some guy that is not worth their time just to have what they think is a man on their arm to impress their girlfriends. End result is not always what they expect.

Yes, walking can really enlighten someone. Many of the stores have been closed or new ones came in. There are no high-end stores in this area. But, there are stores that provide services for people that cannot afford to spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes and other necessities. That is the one thing that I do like. You can get an entire wardrobe for less than 100 dollars if you shop smart. There are many fast food restaurants, there are many thrift shops and of course the standards Rite Aides and CVS’s.

But, what is missing is the good old Pizza Shop where you can listen to music, talk with friends and get a great pie. What is missing is the corner grocery store or the local pharmacy where you know the name of the pharmacist and you are not just a person with an insurance card in their computer. What is missing is the closeness of the people that used to live here in this building. My mom lived here until she passed away in March.

She never wanted to move from her apartment and never complained as she of her friends passed away, moved away or forgot that she was here when she was diagnosed with dementia. My mom taught me to be kind and care about people. She made sure that if someone needs help with anything I would be there to assist or my sister or brother would. She made sure that I someone needed help with a term paper I would help them with the research and guide them through the steps to complete it.

What happens when everyone moves away and you feel that you do not belong where you live? Most of the people do not speak English. They come from one country and they are pretty much in their own group. No matter how you try to be kind and considerate most of them do not accept others that are not part of their group or family. The older people say hello and are kind. The younger ones or teens are polite. The adults need some work.

Walking around the block you see everything. But, living in this building you feel alone. Funny, when I was cleaning out my mom’s apartment some of her neighbors were hoping I would move in. Some just wanted to know who was moving in. Others just wanted to know what I was giving away. Some just never realized she passed. How sad when things change and can’t stay the same. I realize people move, things in the area change and stores will not last forever. But, why can’t people accept you for who you are not what race, religion or the color of your skin.

I guess that is something that I will never understand and I hope that I will never change. Everyone is beautiful and unique in your own way. Why doesn’t everyone believe it?

Fran Lewis: Just my thoughts

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