There was a time I was determined to stay there, in that area. It was home, the last place that really felt like home. It was familiar to me, and I needed that. I think Collin needed it, too. I wanted to stop time, in a way, to be surrounded by all the sights and sounds I knew so well. It was the next best thing to keeping Mom and Dad with us.
But being there again made me see that nothing ever stays the same. People we knew and cared about are gone. Some we couldn't stand are gone, too. Some of the restaurants we used to love are gone--some of them have even been torn down. The movie theater is gone. It--and the shopping center across the street--have been demolished. All that remains is a huge pile of rubble.
Kenrick 8 Cinema
Ted Drewes--best frozen custard on the planet!
Target--the one we knew--is gone. In its place is a new, bigger, more upscale Target. They definitely can't call themselves a discount chain anymore. Walgreens has moved. Hollywood Video has gone the way of the dinosaur. The bookstore's gone, in its place a Noodles & Company. The IHOP is gone--that was a shocker. It had been there for as long as I can remember. Home Town Buffet is gone, as is the restaurant that occupied that location afterward. Our family doctor has retired and the rest of his joint practice moved to a new location.
Top: Buder Library
Bottom: Noodles & Company
The library is still there, as are Schnucks and McDonalds. The bank where my parents had their account is now a credit union. But so much has changed, I realized that no matter how much I wanted to hold onto the past, we really can't go back. We can only move forward. The people we love and lose, the places that were once a big part of our lives but no longer exist, still live in our memories. We have to accept that. We can only move forward.
Top: our home from 1995-2003 (we
lived on the second floor, right side of building)
Bottom: Hampton Village Shopping Center
One last thing: in recent months, there has been a great deal of racial division in the St. Louis area. There have been non-violent protests. There have been riots--looting, burning buildings, rage. A white man was assaulted on public transportation by three African-American men while other passengers looked on. I wasn't too crazy about having to take a bus for any distance for that reason--but something happened on our way home that might not seem like a big deal to most people, but it meant a great deal to me. To get home, we had to change buses. I don't get around very well these days. I use a cane. Getting on and off buses can be tricky, so Collin boards first so I can grasp his arm to pull myself up. He goes ahead and gets off first so he can help me if the step down is a long one. That day, he was already off the bus, waiting, when I finally got to my feet. We'd been seated for a long time and I was in a lot of pain. I couldn't balance myself and almost fell.
The only person who came to my rescue was a very kind African-American gentleman who helped me stay upright and guided me to the exit, where Collin was waiting. This man could have just let me fall, as everyone else on board seemed willing to do--but he didn't. He saw a fellow human being in distress and came to help.
I pray that one day, we'll all see each other as people, just human beings, not colors or any other label. Random acts of kindness are a good start....