Monday, June 30, 2008

The drawbridge over the moat

I'm not apologizing for my slightly acidic post from last Thursday. But I just want to offer just a bit of clarification: I know that it takes all types, and well, not everyone who lives in the suburbs — even if they moved out of Trenton to live in the suburbs — sucks. A lot of them do suck, of course; just as a lot of people who live in Trenton suck bad, too. Obviously. Sucking is unfortunately a major personality trait among humans.

But sucking isn't the only major personality trait among humans. Humans, too, are known for their decency and compassion and their overall coolness. So just as there are plenty decent, compassionate, cool people in this very city, the same traits exist outside the city as well. So, even though I was kinda hard on the suburbs on Thursday, and the "Ville" formerly known as Washington Township, there are plenty of nice people who live in the suburbs (and even Robbinsville. Maybe). By extension, I know that not everyone who lives in Chicken Shit, Maryland is a cannibal or torturer or sexual predator, even though it seems like there are an inordinate amount of weird scary small people who have beady red eyes and very little melanin who creep out of the swamps and walk along the roads late at night down there, and well, that just gives me the willies.

I know that many people outside this city do care about what's happening here, and I'm glad for that, because as self-serving and non-newsy as this may sound, that's part of the whole reason I started this blog: I wanted the outside world to see that real humans — decent, intelligent, vibrant, compassionate people — live here. People like me, you know? And maybe, even though bad stuff happens sometimes, and that I have more than my fair share of idiotic neighbors by Trenton standards or otherwise, the fact that the decent, intelligent, vibrant, compassionate people stay, might just possibly bring in more like-minded, like-hearted people. We have an awesome bunch of people here, and it is so worth your while to not only hang with us, but to maybe even become our neighbors. I kid you not.

Part of my motivation for posting on Thursday is that after awhile, even after something as traumatic and tragic as a murder outside your home, one can only take so much of the questioning about why we live here. We do ask ourselves that question, of course. I mean, shit, we might be crazy, but we're not stupid: a murder took place outside our home, for crying out loud! It's just we have weighed the options — not always, but often, crime is just not nearly as random as we like to believe, the fact we have an election in under two years, that many of our neighborhood ills have improved, that maybe we are cut out for this particular battle, and, like your days, many of ours are also uneventful and comfortable, and ultimately, we just love our home — and have come to the conclusion that, yep, as crazy and as stubborn as it sounds, it IS worth it to stay here. And, after awhile, one can read just enough commentary on the Breaking News area, about how Trenton is only full of animals, and should just be burned to the ground, or, maybe a large moat should be dug around the city, and all of us left to rot. I sometimes get a chuckle out of that kind of stuff, especially the stuff about moats, because I always liked the idea of having to lower a big, heavy crank bridge to allow my guests entry (you KNOW you've made it if you need a moat, right?); but at the core, it pisses me off, because the perception of Trenton is just far, far worse than the reality, and it is just never acceptable to write off an entire city's worth of people. And while I'm all for free speech, it's kind of yucky to read the comments to my fellow bloggers' entries about how stupid we all are for living here, when we're fighting a losing battle, and that we're just using the local pizza as justification for staying, when one can get "real" Trenton pizza in Robbinsville. And to know many of Glen's coworkers are too afraid to come into Trenton is just pathetic, because — no offense, Jenny, I swear — my sister Jenny, is pretty much convinced that there's murder and mayhem lurking behind every corner, and even she's not afraid to come in to Trenton. Plus, I'm on the short side of average, and am philosophically opposed to deliberate exercise, so, I have very little muscle tone; I can take Glen in a physical fight, but have no idea how I'd do against someone with a) a gun, or b) better reflexes than Glen. But I'm holding my own. I am. My point: if little ol' flabby me can make it in Trenton, well, then, so can you.

But I know, I know, I know. For some, city life isn't an option. I grew up in a town with lots of woods and farms, and I do sometimes yearn for that, so I understand the appeal. I can understand too, that maybe some people don't even like the perceived threat of violence (even though who knows what's really going on in YOUR neighbor's home). And I can't even get away with saying "urban life is awesome," because life in Trenton, in many ways, is so very suburban, since we are, at best, struggling to find our footing as a real city. There has been progress, but it's slow going, and truth be told, for as many cool things there are in Trenton, we often have to make our way to the suburbs for this or that, anyway, because the hours here are lame, or sometimes we just need to have Indian or Japanese or Middle Eastern or Vietnamese food, and you just can't get that in this city (someone needs to get working on that).

But Trenton is full of good people. And it's a struggle. But we are up for it. I don't see Trenton as a lost cause, or a lost battle, though. Real people live here, and our lives matter.


William said...

I enjoy your blog and wanted to let you know and to say hello!

Anonymous said...

i thought your post last week was excellent.

we too wonder sometimes what we are doing here, when the noise is excessive and the 3 year old is trying to sleep.

we recently attended a party in yardley for my child's friend and a suburban mom (rudely) asked another Trenton mom why she lived here, and cited the danger to our children. i usually welcome the question of why i live here, because it makes for a good conversation and i get to talk up Trenton, but this was just so confrontational. but after this encounter my decision to live here made more sense. i live here to be far away from people like her. i know not all suburbanites are like her, but there are probably more of her in the suburbs than in Trenton. and if i got too close it might be easy to become someone like her.

so as much as Trenton can drive me crazy sometimes, i think it also helps keep me grounded and sane.