Thursday, February 22, 2007

Our Happy Home In Memphis, Tennessee

With RJA's recent unexpected store guests added to the tally, that makes three fingerprint-garnering crimes inflicted on our small circle of friends since the beginning of the year. It's frightening, infuriating, and deeply demoralizing. Seeing headlines flick by on the news is depressing enough, but it's even harder to feel much hope about the place where you live when you watch your friends going through the cycles of anger and fear that being a crime victim entails. As Memphians, and (semi- to actual)Midtowners in partcular, we're constantly asking ourselves why we stay, why we put up with the problems we know are here, why we're raising our kids in a city that often resembles an Old West free-for-all rather than a stable metropolis.

In the new issue of Fertile Ground, a number of Memphis parents/writers address this issue both directly and indirectly (including all three of the lawfully infringed parties referenced above). There are a lot of positive things mentioned about Memphis, from the culture to the sense of community, but I think the most basic reason we're here is because ... this is where we are. This is our home, whether we've been here all our lives or have transplanted by choice. And sure, I guess there are those folks who pack up and move when the floors get creaky or the basement walls crack, but for those who crave stability and are slow to uproot, it just feels natural to work through the problems. Or better yet, follow the true Midtowner-homeowner path and ignore them.

And of course, pure stubbornness comes into play. Some chickenshit burglar or cracked-out, theoretically-armed robber thinks he's going to get the better of us? Some sackless douchebag is going to make us fear for the safety of our kids? The fuck he is!

(Ahem. Sorry, Mom. Did I mention the anger part of being a crime victim?)

Point is, we've made choices and sacrifices and commitments to this place. We've built careers and families and friendships here. As a native and 14th-generation Minnesotan, I never expected Memphis to feel like home to me, but now I can't deny the pull. Call it insanity or inertia, but it's become very hard for me to imagine myself having as full a life anywhere else. It's both the good and bad that make this town unique, and one night of having the crap scared out of me doesn't outweigh the countless park dates, shared meals, and hours of laughter that occurred before and since. Plus, of course, the nightly poker games at the saloon/brothel.


Unknown said...

It's like a Richard Pryor album over here at Secret Agent Mom.

Chip said...

This is a pretty complex subject for me. There are many things which bug me about living and raising kids in Memphis-- but I do feel that same strong pull. Memphis has character and soul that not all cities have. Ultimately, I'm sure we'll stay here, but that shouldn't stop us from dropping f-bombs in our blog posts and zine articles about the things we don't like.