Today was a good day. But isn’t it always? It’s just our perception, perspective, and attitude about the day, during the day, that changes. A circle is a circle no matter where you stand in/on it. No matter your vantage point. Today, I saw the circle instead of imagined sharp edges.
I felt some shame this past week. I realized that my children have not experienced an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore. The one who has–well, she can’t remember it. She was too young when we last went–a toddler. I guess our love for the library that we visit weekly and the convenience of Amazon and other online bookstores have taken brick and mortar bookstores out of our lives. Don’t get me wrong–we get a lot of books from vendors, open-air markets, fairs, festivals, and bazaars. But how odd–an actual bookstore has been near extinct from our lives for about 5-6 years. However, today, an opportunity arose. This Small Business Saturday offered a chance to meet an author I’ve been reading from my current neighborhood at a bookstore in my old neighborhood. Did I mention that the children also haven’t walked around my neighborhood in the same amount of time?? Circles, I tell you.
Everything for a reason. I guess it’s gentrification at its best. And well, a lot has changed in my neighborhood since my family left, and I didn’t know how I was going to deal with that, but today, I was finally ready to witness the change. And I’m so happy that I did.
There are some things that are still the same. And some things that are better. Which I was able to share with my children today. The sidewalk has turned mostly from brown to grey. They took out some of the grass. And the brown wooden frog my uncle and I use to pose and take pictures by is gone. But the seafood is still there. And more. The marina still boasts octopuses, squid, crab, shrimp, lobster, oysters, clams, and fish that can be eaten, cooked, or simply used as scientific discovery to the unbeknownst. The smells of the sea and fishermen still hang in the air, steaming with Old Bay Spice. The trash of alcoholics’ bottles still litter the Potomac. The boats and boathouses that I dreamed I’d live in one day are still docked. Hane never lost his Point across the river. The buildings are taller and fancier. But not too tall. I can still see my junior high school across the street, and the elementary school is still down the street. The pond park is still there and so is the library where I first discovered the power of words through a library card. You can still see the Monument. And the Capitol building. Our old apartment building and the pool still stand though I would never call them “home” now. Home lives in those memories of childhood–of love, warmth, laughter, growth, and play. But the concept of home expands and extends…to the family I have now, which is much bigger than what I began with in Southwest. The family that began the moment we broke the news of our engagement to my grandma by the old Fort in Southwest. The day I left the apartment to be a bride. Today, when I return, for my children to run down the Wharf, carefree, just like I did so many years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
But to be honest, there is novelty here. I mean, it kind of ticked me off that I had to ask for directions to a street that didn’t exist when I lived here. All the pizzazz to bring new blood into this part of town brought this new street, as well as a bookstore here, swings and other recreational play on the docks…a stage, a fire pit! It rivals my new adopted neighborhood on another side of the Potomac. My new home. Whose development I also witnessed…from a forest to a harbor. And now the deer crap in my yard. But I guess they always did. It was their home first. Oxon Hill, Maryland. Were their oxen here at some point? I guess not–I read on Wikipedia that “Oxon” is an abbreviated form of “Oxford” because the town reminded its settlers of Oxford, England. Imagine that. Oxon Hill. Where the author I wanted to meet at the bookstore is from–Jason Reynolds. And Jeff Kinney, the author of a Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The idea that two authors have sprung from these same surroundings so recently motivates me! And I only learned this fact about a month ago. So I told Jason, who is around my age, that two males are representing our city in Maryland–now it’s my time! That I would do the female representation. He said “Alright, I’ll be watching out” and asked me my name, and gave me some book recommendations which I’m always on the lookout for. I sure hope I hit the literary circle soon. So I can see that the grass is not greener, but has always been the same color…wherever I stand…since there are no sides to 360 degrees.
It’s amazing how things work out. I wanted to go to an event a few weeks ago where Jason Reynolds was reading from his new book at a bookstore across town. Like away from my house, on the upper NW side of DC. But it was too far, too late, and for teens and adults. I like events where my whole family can hang, if they want to. That author event wasn’t a part of my circle. It wasn’t meant for me. This one was. I’m starting to see that stepping outside of my bubble inspires my art, craft, and writing. Doing new things gives me something to talk about!!
I sure don’t plan on being a stranger to my old neighborhood any more, but maybe one of these next times, I won’t have to ask for directions to a new bookstore in my old neighborhood. Or around town in general. Maybe, instead, I will be going there, not to get a book signed, but to sign my own books while representing two beautiful neighborhoods on the Potomac River. And the bookstore won’t be such a novelty to my children because they will be used to going on book tours with their Mami, around the circle…on a boat…which I’ve learned to steer.