While in one of our road trip chats recently, my daughter told the tale of how she spent some time back in the old neighborhood in South Buffalo. It surprised her how little things have changed. It wasn’t just the landmarks, but the same people doing the same things, saying the same things, and dating among the same people in those places, be it a school parking lot hangout or the local bar. After living in a diverse, larger world at college out of town, the place she remembered and the people therein seemed to have stood still, and may stay that way through their whole lives.
For some this might be a comfort, but for me, it was an eye-opener. Now that we live in a similar, adjacent neighborhood to that one, I previously lamented that we may never be more than an “outsider”. I longed for the day when I would know all the local gossip and they would all mutually recognize me when I walked down the street.
Do I really want that? It’s comforting to have familiarity and little change in your environment, but maybe the world is too big a place to settle into one place mentally, risking putting on social and cultural blinders. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an interest in being invested in the local community, but even if I could somewhat center my existence around and become one of the “good old boys” I do not think it is desirable.
The whole world is my school, my playground, my social gathering place. My home.