I’m walking my dog in my apartment complex in a municipality city of the Dallas-Fort-Worth area. I have a little girl at home. My dog trots over the grass, in the octagonal space we pretend is our yard. She squats while I stand idling, and I think about when I was my daughter’s age.
When I was four I lived in a town of 12,000 people. Throughout school my family knew most other families in the town too. In Winfield, Kansas it was unknowingly a privilege to walk the streets at night and not feel afraid. That town was ours and I never could have comprehended anything but what happened around and in my town.
Now, when I left Winfield High School I unknowingly moved to the hood. I may be from a small town, but I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I grew up in Oak Cliff.
People I knew in my neighborhood were shot in the face. A crack head I used to see everyday burned down the apartment building across from mine. The bodies of 4 men were found hacked up in trash cans in the hoods I drove through to see my friends.
I noticed when the room started to fill with red. I wasn’t surprised when my friend told me about someone they saw shot. Men would follow me to my parking spots for my number. I have been told to leave a building more than once in fear that someone soon would be shot.
Helicopter lights shining in my home was a norm. I have ran from gun shots in a parking lot more times than I can count. I have choked on mace sprayed into crowds. I have met some of the most prestigious rappers from the Deep South. I dated a rapper that people in hoods all over Dallas and Houston knew of.
I’ve been pulled over by police just so they could holla at me. Police would blockade our streets and make us all stop regardless and arrest 10s of us in a night. More than a pimp or two has tried to add me to his roster.
I almost didn’t have a single friend that didn’t have someone in prison that they missed dearly. I have family members who walk amongst the homeless in Downtown Dallas. I have slept in my car without anyplace to go.
I am 75% of the way to being free from needing to worry about robbers going into my home while I walk my dog and my daughter is inside.
Be happy you are from a small town and have seen less. I am burdened with the things I know. I cannot wait to go back to a small town again. To be a “small-town person”.
If anything, be happy for that.