Everyone in our circle of friends seems to be blogging about why Memphis is still a good place to live even though it's not. Or even though three of us have been victims of crimes in the past month, to be more specific. It seems I have been cast in the role of hater in this little love-for-our-home fest, so I thought I would talk about why I want to leave.
Yes, Memphis has been my home for all but about two years of my life. Yes, my parents and friends are here, and leaving them would be sad and difficult. But it's not like moving a few hours away means we'd never see or hear from any of you again. I know that we would miss the weekend hangouts and watching our kids grow up together, and yes, I'm tearing up as I write that. Still, I have to believe that in another city we could not replace, but add to our circle of friends, and make a life for ourselves just like we've done here. Just with less crime and prettier scenery.
The crime is bad but it's not the main problem for me. Ok yes, yesterday the librarian here at school mentioned that she had seen my address on some paperwork and realized we are neighbors on the same block. In the course of the conversation, she told me that last year she came home and surprised a robber, who kept her in the house for two hours, lying face-down on the floor, while he went through her stuff and took what he could find. When I said I had heard about that from another neighbor but thought it happened in a nearby cove, she replied in a low voice "No, that was the rape. That was terrible." And we live in a pretty good area, in what we jokingly call the servants' quarters of one of the city's oldest and most expensive neighborhoods. Why don't the crack heads steal from the rich people in the million-dollar mansions and leave us alone? I have to ask if I'm just biding my time until I come home with my kids one day to see the door kicked in, or how I will help them recover from the fear after we all get carjacked. We are just, today, two full months into the year and there have been 23 murders in Memphis so far. The big story in the local news is that the bloated monopoly of a utility has been giving certain political figures a free ride on utility bills registering in the several thousands, for who knows how long, under the guise of a program designed to protect the elderly and disabled poor from unexpected cut-offs. The separate-but-not-equal dual school systems are still zoning for overcrowded schools along racial lines and still trying to say they are not doing any such thing. I won't even get into the disgustingly inept and corrupt city council, mayor, et al. It's too depressing.
I feel like it's time for a serious risk/benefits analysis. When I spend time thinking about whether it is better to try to talk an armed attacker into letting me live, or saying nothing so I won't anger him, I think it's time to go. I realize there is no utopia, and that every community has crime and problems. I just can't believe there isn't a better place than this in which to raise my family. I can't help but think what a big world this is, and what a short life, and that I could live someplace beautiful, but instead I live here. Consistency is always easiest, but I'm not afraid to leave my comfort zone. And even though I do love and thrive on change, I'm not advocating change for its own sake. There are just so many reasons to leave, and just too few to stay.