I spent almost all of my childhood in the same neighborhood, and there were a set of other kids in my age range who lived within walking distance of my home. We also (mostly) went to the same elementary, middle, and high schools.
It boggles my mind that a huge swath of Americans my age, perhaps even a majority, did not grow up with this.
Then it came time to go to college. Hardly any of us went to the same college. Hardly any of us went to college in the same city.
Some of my neighbors thought this was a good thing – heck, even I thought it was a good thing at the time. One of my neighbors said that we had been too close growing up, and that it was time to get some distance from each other. I myself had ‘cabin fever’, which is one of the reasons I was so resistant to going to college in the Bay Area. Eventually, this was one of the reasons I ended up moving to a different continent.
However, before I got to move to a different continent, I ended up going to college in *gasp* San Francisco. Almost everybody else managed to escape this fate, which in a way meant I was a loser. Much as I wanted to leave San Francisco for cabin-fever reasons, I was okay with being a loser, since it felt badass, rebellious, and more liberating than being a ‘winner’.
One of the results was that I was one of the only people in my age range left in the neighborhood.
That’s not true – there actually still were quite a few people, if not my age, then only a few years older than me. But they had moved into to San Francisco to get a job or … ha … go to college, so they don’t count. They didn’t grow up with me.
However, the older generation … the parents of the kids I grew up with … were still around. It was weird, constantly seeing the parents of the kids I grew up with without seeing the kids.
Heck, even I, the holdout, got out of the neighborhood eventually.
One of my closest childhood friends went to college out of state. Eventually, her parents followed her, and left the neighborhood. Maybe other parents have also followed their kids (since I moved to Taiwan, contact has been extremely minimal).
Looking back on this, I wonder … what if we had all gone to San Francisco City College, or San Francisco State University, just as we had gone to the same set of public schools? We probably would not have liked the idea, but then again, our community would have stayed more intact.
I, at least, plan to return to the neighborhood, and settle down there for the long-haul. I don’t know if the kids I grew up with have the same plan.