Wednesday, August 3, 2011
In Your Honor
When I left Bayonne, 4 years ago, I thought I was saying goodbye to my hometown. But last weekend that all changed when I had an idea for a group where people could share their most cherished stories of all--their memories about their hometown.
Our hometowns shape us. It can’t be denied. Each and every one of us is who we are, in part, because of where we grew up. It was the people we knew, our teachers, police officers, priests and preachers, piano teachers, PAL coaches and dance instructors who taught us lessons about life that would later prove more valuable than we ever knew they would be.
It is truly a tribute to humanity that so many people have flocked to this group with hopes of sharing a ‘remember when’ story, just aching for the chance to discuss a time when life wasn’t so stressful. A time when people left their doors open because they knew and trusted their neighbors. When the people that you surrounded yourself with lived on your block, or went to your school. This group has done that by creating a welcoming atmosphere of nostalgia. Thank you, (yes you, reading this right now), for starting what I hope will one day serve as a reminder to not just my hometown people, but to everyone's. My gratitude for each and every person that feels the same way is immense.
When I look at old photographs and speak to people that I haven’t communicated with in a while, it always takes me back to a time when I didn’t have to worry if the rent was paid. All I had to worry about is being a kid. TPlaying games and laughing until my stomach hurt. That kind of carefree attitude can’t be manufactured or sold. And once it’s gone, it’s near impossible to recapture. That’s the beauty of nostalgia.
The overwhelming majority of folks shared the same things. Some missed the locally owned stores. Some wondered why their children couldn’t have the same childhood they did. Why couldn’t their child go out and play until the streetlights came on and it was time for dinner? The simple answer is that times have changed. But, what I’ve realized by starting this group is that people have not. People are still good even though times are tough. I truly believe that this group is indicative of what America needs today: To reconnect with a time when there weren’t cell phones and gadgets consuming our lives. A time when people left their house and explored their community. We need to remember that a community is people and places with shared experiences. What that means is that we’re all in this together. That while we are different, we share the same memories, have passion for the same interests, and are defined by our desire to be ‘heard. recognized, and above all else, loved.
Nostalgia serves as a reminder that we are all interconnected. That while we may be different, most of us share the same kind of memories, the same common goal. We are in control of our own happiness, and ultimately are all a part of something worth fighting for: our community. And if everybody remembers that…well, then anything is possible.