Junior High found me at a pivotal point. House in suburbia sold we packed up and headed North. Sunny Slope neighborhood traded in for Benson, 45th Ave. Positivity came easily. Memories from both areas of town sweeten my reveries. My childhood, adolescence and teenage years were marked by happiness.
Not the fru-fru, fakey-fake, spoiled-little-rich-girl, materialistic and capricious happy. Granted, I wanted for nothing. Mine was a well rounded happiness, though. Mine was an un-sheltered experience for which I am extremely grateful.
The Northern exposure came about by intentional parenting from my mom and dad. They said something like this:
“We are moving to the North part of town because we want you kids to have a multi-racial upbringing.”
Discussions around games of cards frequently floated to the diversity around us in race, economics, religious practices and beliefs, family structure and apparent roles in society. Naturally we were a curious set of kids and just as naturally our parents allowed us to explore these ideas. This gift of thinking given to me I treasure deeply.
We lived in the North part of town until I was married and started out on my own. When I say lived I mean every aspect of life revolved around this part of the city. The diverse, cultured, and even deemed dangerous part of town.
This white girl married a black man. If I had continued my growing up years way over there on 105th I don’t know that this would be the case. Sixty blocks North led to four thousand miles South. I often think of that dramatic move and the impact that it has had on my life. Faces, sounds, sites and smells come to mind. Fish-fry Fridays at Holy Name Catholic church three houses down from our two-story pink and purple house opened my mind to living in the colorful Catholic city of Cochabamba. Foster brothers and sisters in our rooms and multiple families with 10 or more kids at all the block parties gave me a capacity for a life surrounded by many children. The halls of my high-school lined with the rich brown tones of ethnicity from every corner of the globe made me thirst for knowing more of the world. Sitting squeezed next to the dozens of people we picked up for church in our 15 passenger van gave me a heart ready to reach out (and a tolerance for public transportation in Bolivia).
God got me ready bit by bit all along the way. I stand astounded as I think about how brave and bold a choice my parents took in moving us all North. I don’t know if I will ever be able to say thank you enough.