I can’t just jump right in and start from adulthood…there’s something valuable in knowing where my journey begins, so here is the fast forwarded version. Born in Flushing Queens, NY…raised in Philly…now living in DC (well, the DMV)! I didn’t realize what any of this would actually mean until I got older. Although only my infant years were lived in Queens, I remained strong to my New York pride as I spent all-year-round time at my Grandparents’ apartment in the Bronx, and driving up for almost every holiday.
The city I was raised in was Philly and without a doubt, it shed light to a whole new life…one that I knew I wanted out of. As my infant years became my toddler years, then my childhood years, then my teenage years…I noticed that the trips to my second home of NYC were few and far in between. Tragedy struck my family in more ways than one. Drugs, violence, and above all…DEATH. At a young age, I came to know what death really meant as I lost two uncles to drugs. Another two disappeared and weren’t seen for years…also due to drugs. Although depressing, it was a life lesson that I still hold close. NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM GOING DOWN THE WRONG PATH IN LIFE. Despite experiencing those tragic moments, my parents were amazing at keeping me focused, driven and sheltered even though I was surrounded by chaos.
Not living in the best neighborhoods in Philly had its ups and its downs. I was able to pin point people that I knew I didn’t want to become and I made friends with the neighborhood dope boys…I lived in a few areas of Philly, but the hood I spent most of my key years in was in South Philly. Crazy enough, I was never scared because I made nice with the right people who watched out for me. Almost all of them told me that I was different…to stay in school…there’s nothing here…live your life. That’s exactly what I did! I made sure to go to college outside of the Tri-State area (PA, NJ, NY). Once I graduated, I knew I didn’t want to stay home for long and after two years of working, saving money, learning, being loved by my parents, enjoying my friends, I knew that it was time. I packed my bags, jumped in my blue Toyota Echo, headed for the DMV (DC, MD, VA) and I knew I didn’t want to go back to the 215 unless it was to visit. I love my city that I was raised in, but in order for me to break free of the norm and truly be fulfilled I had to get out there and live without my safety net. But, one thing I realize now is that your safety net is never gone no matter how far you move. That’s the beauty of it all! As much as I tried to get away, I always go back and have a new appreciation for my family, my friends, and my city! The DMV is simply where I dwell…my real home is where my heart is, but I needed my new dwelling spot in order to be kicked into the next phase of my life!
THOUGHT: Sometimes you have to leave what you know in order to find who you are.