Statistically I should be dead or in prison so either I’m a ghost writer, this is a letter from an upstate correctional facility, or I’ve beaten the odds thus far. There’s always a chance that I might be speaking too soon but why use up brain matter on something that has not presented itself.The environment I grew up in wasn’t all roses but it doesn’t really reflect the person I am today. Oh trust that I am street smart; I’m just not in the streets like that. I guess it wasn’t in the cards so to have actually survived this long without some of the scars that my comrades had accumulated is quite commendable; if I may. I did say comrades; not necessarily part of my inner circle but I grew up with them to a certain degree. We’re not that much different. We all want similar things or have similar dreams and we come from the same place. We just have different thought processes.
The hood is a world of its own. So many people never get out because it actually provides all of the necessities needed to survive. It is no wonder why many of us accept it as our end all. It has schools, medical facilities, food chains, clothing shopping areas; you name it the hood has it.People grow accustomed to that lifestyle and when we sometimes dream, our imaginations only stretch but so far. That is until we are exposed to the outside.
I have faded memories of those same friends I mentioned earlier. We are all standing on the block watching nice cars roll by and claiming which one of them is ours. “That’s my car! No that’s my car! No that’s my car!”, you’d hear each of us yell.Eventually we would all grow up and I ended up buying one of those cars that I had claimed as a youth. My associates never got the same opportunity.
Speaking of opportunity, “Veni, vedi, vici”. That’s a latin term which means, “I came. I saw. I conquered”. The streets had been raising me for a while and what some people saw as opportunities for a better lifestyle, I saw as pitfalls. I began to pay attention to my surroundings more. I saw what it took for my next door neighbor to pay his rent, what it took for the neighborhood hustler to buy all the jewelry on his body and even what it took for my parents to feed three hungry mouths.
With my dreams in my back pocket, I took to the streets. I began walking. The further I walked, the more familiar things looked except better to the third power. Everything I saw in the hood, was outside of it but kept up. When I walked into a facility, there were eyes on me. I was a stranger. I wasn’t upset. If those pople who were staring holes into me came to my part of town, we’d be doing the same to them. Soon I would change my demeanor and less and less eyes would be on me. I actually began to fit in. I wasn’t totally a changed man, I just made some adjustments to learn the new environment and in comparison from where I came from, it wasn’t so much different either. These people put their legs into their pants just as we do, they work jobs just as we do, and so forth. Their dreams were just bigger than ours because they don’t see the limits like we do.
When I walked down the street, I learned how to move mountains that were once looked upon as obstacles. I just had to move them one rock at a time. Eventually others who saw that same mountain would join in and help me. I would walk back to my block and extend my hand out but some just didn’t get it. They still have those street dreams but so do I. I just chose a different street to walk on.