One thing that I've loved the most about living in the neighborhood I've been in for over seven years was the decrease in ridiculous approaches I got. By approaches, I mean guys walking up to you spitting game that doesn't work on anybody but rats. Yeah, that might sound harsh, but it's the truth. Within this past year, there's been a significant change during my train ride (folks are selling candy to make-believe organizations, opening train doors jumping from car to car, putting their legs up on seats, blasting music without using headphones) and now I'm seeing folks hang out by my nearby el stops and just walk around randomly loitering. One perk of my own building was this beautiful set of flowers and freshly mowed grass. There's no porch. There's no stoop. So it's strictly for show and nobody hangs out. I came home one day to see two teenagers flopped down on the ground in front of the door. Extra tacky! Why would you need to hang out by the door when there's a lakefront and a beach a few minutes away?
Although I preferred peaceful, quiet rides on the el station once it passed the downtown area, and I liked walking down the street with folks getting off of work, walking their dogs and working on their lawns, the neighborhood is changing. And to be honest, I don't care for it. One of the things that I really loved about living on the north side is the diversity and the peace. My mother has joked a few times about how she thinks I'll never move. I told her I genuinely liked the area. I like being able to take a walk without worrying about what neighborhood I'm going through. I like being able to jog at night. I like being able to go to a beach not overcrowded with litter and not being concerned about somebody shooting somebody else on the basketball court.
And if you move into a more diverse area, take the time to appreciate it. And don't bring the negative ish you left in your old neighborhood to a better neighborhood.
What I'm seeing since the beginning of this year: I'm not feeling folks hanging by the el trains and having no interest whatsoever in actually getting on the train. I'm not feeling guys hanging out of their car windows (usually on the passenger side, remember TLC's "Scrubs" song?) yelling "Hey sexy" or rapping "Hey ba-bay" (remember Hurricane's rap?). I'm completely repulsed by guys walking up staring at women like they're naked, asking where they're going and calling them pet names like you two know each other. I definitely don't miss cars driving by blasting music loud enough to shake the block. It makes me cringe when somebody is yelling and cursing while talking to someone directly next to them--seriously, if the only way you can communicate is through yelling and complaining, you need to start doing yoga. Or, just calm down. Period.
I am absolutely fed up with hearing about gang violence in Chicago, especially considering I grew up on a block that had three gangs around it. As you get older, you start losing your patience for stuff that you just accepted as a teenager. While I've always cringed about dudes yelling from their car window ("I'm not a dog. I don't come when called so if you want to talk to me, don't be too lazy to get out of the car" is something I've said more than a few times), I'm realizing that I'm losing patience for a lot of other stuff. There comes a time when a grown woman just can't tolerate physically grown men still acting like teenagers. And my gawd, there are some teenagers who absolutely need a positive male and female role model in their lives.
I remember doing an interview with MC Lyte a couple years ago and I asked her did she still want a roughneck. Her response was something to the effect of (I don't have my tape recorder out, but I can prove it if someone challenges me on it), "I want a refined ruffneck, someone I can take to the block and to the White House." Yeah, that makes two of us. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being street smart. I think it's slightly dangerous to be book smart but not be able to survive in other neighborhoods. I can respect both. But if you're street smart with absolutely no book smarts, you're doing yourself a disservice, and pissing off everybody who wants to keep the b.s. out of their neighborhoods, too.