Giving truth to Memphis youth
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love with appreciation for you for your spirit. I love you with admiration for the pride that bleeds through your streets like a river and how you are your own doctor when you become wounded. I love you with my mind for history and tradition, which you have taught me to appreciate and enjoy. Above all, I love you with all of me, because you played a role into shaping who I am today. Who would I be without you? What could I be without you?
Yet, though I love you in so many ways, I am afraid we have reached a crossroads. “Walking in Memphis” has become “Running from Memphis.” It’s a transition that has left me no choice but to become a “Distant Lover,” so many miles away. Your streets have become cold and heartless. The promise and prosperity that once was omnipresent has lost its glow, slowly dimming around you. A chill of fear that is colder than winter makes me shudder at the thought of what all you are dealing with. Your issues have become my issues; it’s a weight that I feel is too much to bear.
What saddens me is YOU, Memphis, are not even the cause of your problems. What saddens me and hurts my heart is what those who inhabit you have allowed you to become. There is enough blame to go around for why you are not in you best condition. The politicians and officials who are elected to run you, who seem to overlook the core heart of your problems (your run down neighborhoods, growing violence and lack of steady economic promise) for what seems to be issues with private agendas (money, budgets, money, and of course, money). The educational system, which is set up in such a way that it seems as if you can turn three corners on a road between two schools and receive two completely different standards of education, making some not even want to be involved in our school district. The ignorant, not only those who feel as if you do not have problems, but those who insist that all of your problems are self created, and that it is you who created such a monster.
And then, there are people like me. Those who have asked themselves “Is Memphis killing its people or are Memphians killing Memphis?” and have chosen the latter. We are fully aware of the problems, yet have made no contributions to fix you. How dare I?
Memphis, how I love you. But I can’t be with you. It’s not you; it’s me. When we reunite, I will try to fix you and show people how you have been. But, for now, we must part. Remember me as I will remember you. I have loved my good times here, and I will miss my good times here.
Memphis, it’s time for me to be a big girl now and chase these dreams of mine. When I become a journalist, I promise to always remember you and tell everyone about you. But, for me to make it “there,” I can’t stay “here.”
Until we meet again,
Alexis G. Ditaway