I’ve seen a lot of sh*t in my life.
I’ve almost died more times than I can count and I’ve realized I’m not actually that strong—I just refuse to die.
Living in peril is almost a norm for me now. Plus, I live in the ghetto so I’m constantly on my toes—watching out for shouting voices about to explode into gunfire around the corner, or a block bully sniffing for his fearful, next victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’ve seen street pharmacists on the top of their game, rolling in three or four different cars, all outfitted with rims and noise and—by contrast—a man in a wig and mumu, running down the street on fire, because he didn’t pay his crack bill on time.
I’ve seen so many instances of racism, it turns my stomach and makes me have incredible respect for each and every person who has suffered this ignorance and not resorted to explosive violence. Most people here are trying to get out as fast as possible; life just hasn’t afforded them the financial stability of the suburbs, good schools and decent paying nine-to-five jobs.
But, what the hood lacks in affluence, it makes up for in resourcefulness and community.
Those are two things money cannot buy.
We might not have a gated community, but I bet I’ll know within five minutes if there’s a strange car parked outside my house or an FBI standoff down the block.
Yes, that’s happened. Gangstas packing heat on one side of the street and FBI agents seizing property on the other.
Most people would never wish for these types of experiences, but I’ve accepted that life is a roller coaster, and I want mine to be the Texas Giant of lives.
I would not be content on the Teacups ride of life—where the low point was the death of a loved one and the highest point was marriage and kids. It’s a safe, stable ride and, I’m sure, peaceful and filled with first world problems like buying the newest Coach bag before it sells out or winter-proofing the boat at the lake house before the first freeze.
Maybe those lives are the ideal and for good reason, but I always remember that every life is a roller coaster.
Just because we’re too scared of the dark to ride Space Mountain doesn’t mean we should knock the people who are riding it.
When we see those people on the corner—hair unkempt, wearing inappropriate clothes, scraping together pennies to buy a single cigarette, try to refrain from judging who they are or what they deserve. I Recognize that they may just have been dropped from the Cliffhanger, after working their ass off for an ungrateful boss who fired them for someone younger and willing to work for less per hour.
Or, they never got a decent job because they had a felony on their record. I try to recognize the beauty and value of each life and remember each day is either good or character building, depending on how I look at it.
And if you are lucky enough to be riding the carousel, watching the rest of us hang on for dear life, as we’re tossed round and round, up and down, upside down and backwards, please try and show more compassion and less contempt—please be grateful for what you have.
Not everyone has as great of a ride as you do.
Author: Sarah Molina
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock