Before I get going, I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who reached out to me to tell me to run from the dude with the ditching problem. It’s funny– a couple people asked me if that actually happened, and I guess I should reiterate that everything I write in this blog is as authentic as it gets. Can’t make this craziness up.
This past weekend, I traveled back to my hometown for the first time since Christmas. One of my oldest friends is expecting a little girl with her husband, and I really wanted to be present for her baby shower. Both of us have sisters a decade older than us who played the clarinet at the same high school. Back then, when our sisters put together that Karlee and I were in the same first grade class, they sent us to school with pictures of each other to identify one another. Oh, the days before modern technology. We’ve been friends ever since.
Karlee and I had a lot in common– it was easy to be friends. We grew up with slumber parties, camping trips, and making up dances to perform at school talent shows. We were both bright, both excelled musically, and were always comfortable talking about anything. Honestly, my friendship with her is what made me so hesitant to switch high schools.
Karlee is no stranger to trauma, and the logic and level-headedness she applies to turmoil has always impressed me. She is someone who always puts the next foot forward and knows how to make the best decisions for herself and her future. As I’ve grown to understand that those qualities are anything but natural for me, my respect for her tenacity has sky-rocketed. Unfortunately, I know that there is pain behind the stoicism, and I wish I wasn’t a state away from being there to talk her through the emotions that we share. In any case, I am so grateful that I was able to make the trip back to the burbs of Flint to celebrate her impending motherhood. How in the world are we not six years old anymore?
In somewhat related news, are you keeping up with the continued crumbling of the city of Flint? Like I said, I definitely cannot say that I grew up as a Flint resident, but I did live 25 minutes away. For the first 10ish years of my life, I waved at the Flint jail as we passed it on the way to our church around the corner. I had my fair share of take-your-child-to-work days with my mom downtown. A handful of my friends’ grandparents lived in Flint, and I got my first tattoo on Dort Highway adjacent to barred windows and strip clubs. I’ve taken detours (gotten lost) in neighborhoods lined with abandoned homes and children playing basketball in the street. All of this to say, I feel a sense of obligation to share this city’s presence in my life.
It’s been a while since I’ve thrown a TV or movie suggestion your way. Today, I’ve got to tell you that you need to watch a Netflix series called Flint Town. The series chronicles the Flint Police department from 2015-2017. They talk water crisis, gun violence, racism, police brutality, the 2016 election– they cover all of it. Let me tell you, it’s one thing to be aware of these issues and another to watch the unfathomably under-supported Flint PD try to support the most dangerous city in America. I was disappointed in myself for not fully comprehending the devastation of the town I tell non-Michiganders I hail from.
Perhaps you heard on the news that the state of Michigan will no longer be providing Flint residents with clean bottled water. You might also know that Michigan has corrected the issue of a safe water supply, and replaced some of the pipes actively contaminating the water with lead. Sadly, there are too many original pipes remaining. Contaminated water continues to plague the majority of Flint residents, and now they’re on their own to procure safe water. It’s so gosh darn devastating, I don’t even have the words to dissect the situation. Every day, the urgency of truth becomes more necessary. Too many people, whether by choice or lack of awareness, are choosing to live in our society with rose-colored glasses. Guys, we have to call out the problems. Powerful people pretend that they don’t see the wrongdoing, and want to remain unaffected in their delusions. It’s all going to keep happening until there are enough of us holding up mirrors to reality.
Blah, blah, blah. Watch Flint Town. Keep up with the news (not so much that you get sucked in and woeful, but enough that you know what’s happening in the world). Understand both sides of everything. Use your brain, use your voice, talk about things. We’ve got to do something about the awareness around here.