Thursday, April 5, 2018

Clinton

Me, 1989
In my early to mid teens I loved Clinton. No, not the President, he wasn't President quite yet... not his wife and first woman to come so close to the Presidency (she was robbed!!!), nor the prison that holds my heart at this very moment. No, I was in love with La Clinton... pronounced 'lah cleen-tong' if you're Hispanic! The Avenue, where excitement lived, colors were bright and everything seemed like so much fun. It didn't have the greatest reputation and I was technically not allowed there, so that made it even more attractive to me. It seemed like everyone who was 'cool' was from La Clinton.

It should come as no surprise that my husband lived on a street off of Clinton. He and some other neighborhood guys would DJ parties, performed at various events, created art; evolving into local celebrities. And he was my friend, mine. So I got to hang out with them! 
Street Art, 1993
When I learned how to drive, cruising was the thing to do. It was 1989 and the destination was usually Clinton Avenue; whether it was for a church event (sanctioned by my mom) or to visit a friend, a house party or run an errand... all roads led in the same direction. It was just exciting to get stolen moments there, sort of like having a forbidden relationship with that person your parents warned you about. 
Performance, Summer 1993
But one day, Clinton Avenue became like an ex. I wanted nothing to do with it. It was October 21, 1993. The day my husband got arrested... on Clinton. Our beloved Avenue got to see his freedom disappear and I wasn't there to be his conscience, I felt betrayed. For years I stayed away. I avoided driving down the familiar streets; it was too painful. My husband's legal documents were filled with descriptions of the Avenue. Sometimes I would dream about being there, but I knew that it would never be the same. 

Many years later, I decided to drive down Clinton. I looked at the intersection where my husband was arrested and as I kept driving I noticed the big church down the road and it was still so beautiful. I realized that the Avenue had changed very little, yet I had changed a lot. For the first time in a long time I felt hopeful. 

Almost six years ago I began teaching at a school that is on Clinton Avenue. Now I get to drive down this Avenue everyday, sometimes stopping at the bakery or other establishment on my way home. I reminisce on positive and negative experiences I've had on this street. I look at the empty lot where the house where we lived once stood. I work with families from this community and I love that I have roots and history there; we have have much in common. My love for Clinton is still alive, though now I have respect for the Avenue. We have both grown. 

My husband is also at Clinton (Correctional Facility), ironically. I think fate has a humorous side. It would be awesome if he would just come home right now, from Clinton. Then he would have come full circle. 

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