there’s one stretch of my drive home that is my favorite, and not because it’s the stretch before you turn into my neighborhood. from work, i drive through the area that wraps around the mall and shopping plazas on every inch of concrete. then, i hop onto the highway and drive south. i take my exit and am dumped, again, into suburban wasteland. but then, i round a corner and make my way into the next few blocks that never fail to make me smile.

this takes me through one of the more “ghetto” parts of town. meaning it’s run down. and you can tell because none of the storefronts have new signs; they’re all left over from the 50s and 60s, and all they offer up are sports bars and auto shops and a family dollar. but i think another repercussion of this is–and this is what makes it my favorite–that everyone congregates outside. on porches, on sidewalks, at the basketball court, at the corner stores…

and as i make my way through this area, eventually, after about 4 or 5 blocks, i have to make a right. cincinnati’s suburbs are such that you can go from one extreme to another as far as neighborhoods go just by crossing a street. there’s nothing gradual or a blending. it’s just plain obvious that you were Here and now you’re There. so with this one right turn, the houses become freshly painted and yards more manicured. and empty.

i love the concept of community and knowing your neighbors. i didn’t meet my one neighbor until about a week and a half ago (which, admittedly, was mostly my fault because i’d hide from her if i didn’t feel like talking). but we tend to lock ourselves up inside our houses and little worlds, and it’s kind of depressing how we shut ourselves off from all the others who are surrounding us who we aren’t taking the time to get to know. it just becomes so insular. and self-centered. but yet, here i am, inside, in my bedroom, typing away when i could be outside getting to know the kids who are forever running around and playing in the dirt.