I believe that T.S. Eliot was right when he said,
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at the place we started, and know that place for the very first time.”
T.S. Eliot got it right because I believe that life is about explorations. Some of these explorations take you to places far away. Some of these explorations never take your further than your conscience. All of them help you understand yourself, even if it’s not just for the very first time.
My explorations started at an early age, being raised by my mother in a Scranton, Pennsylvania housing project. Growing up in a housing project in the 1970’s, the vision that came to mind was that of the TV show ‘Good Times’. I hated where I lived. No offense, but my three brothers and I wanted to be more like ‘The Brady Bunch’. So my mind drifted from that place and often my words did as well, especially as I grew older and the forces of peer pressure and wanting to fit in moved me to lie about where I lived. My mother, to her credit, worked very hard to ensure that her sons all received the best possible education, which for three of us led to enrollment at a Catholic high school in Scranton. Visions of the TV show ‘Good Times’ in mind, I was even more reluctant as a teenager to talk about where I lived, especially since most of the other students came from relatively well off families. More times that not I would walk well out of my way home with friends to disguise where I actually lived. I was a ‘perfect storm’ of teenage angst: tall, lanky, bad complexion and ashamed of where I came from. I was also wrong.
Fast-forward to the present, and my explorations in college and career have taken me to places far from that Scranton housing project. Along the way my family has grown, with three teenage daughters of my own who are now the ones that come from that ‘well off’ family that I so coveted when I was a teenager. However, I have never forgotten that place where I grew up, and I occasionally go back just to walk around. I also proudly proclaim my housing project roots, in things like essays and to my peers at work, because far from being ashamed, I am proud of where I came from. Going back to the Midtown Apartments now helps me see truly see that place, and myself, for the very first time. T.S. Eliot was right.
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