Four years ago I resented your crumbling shell of gray strip malls that shrugged and gave way to miles of corn stubble. I sighed at your concrete bunkers that housed thousands of cars from nine to five while standing empty after dusk. Unfazed by my scorn you whispered, “Why don’t you stay a while?”
The ghosts of what you were and what you could have been skulked around every corner. I heard the phantom clang of your long-gone streetcar; I learned that I could have ridden it the few blocks between the first apartments my grandmother and I called our own.
Stories of a neighborhood ripped up to make way for a university echoed on a block where three pizza chains now vied for the attention of undergraduates. The dignified columns of old City Hall hunkered in the shadow of 26 floors of steel-clad bureaucracy.
But out of your soil, a family of lifelong residents coaxed hazy pink red buds, vegetables, and a lasting legacy. Between your silent storefronts, friends laughed and cried over unexpected feasts of goat curry or tacos al pastor that filled us to bursting. Stars winked through orange-purple sunsets over the river that cuts you in two.
Four years ago you asked, “Why don’t you stay?” Then suddenly you said, “You should go.” Maybe someday when the time is right, you’ll call me back. Until then, may you evolve towards an ever stronger and more just future, towards everything that you can and should be.
With gratitude and love,
(The photo of the streetcar was found via IndyGo’s Facebook)