I’m sitting up in bed, giving up on sleep for a little while longer as it’s currently denying me its comfort. It’s the kind of windy Chicago night that I love; the sound of the wind blowing both ferocious and familiar. Tonight it’s a little different though; I hear wind chimes too. I’m enthralled and look to where it’s coming from. Seeing as I’m accustomed to the sound of a symphony of sirens, loud music, and car alarms attempting to harmonize throughout the night, the wind chimes are an enchanting and welcome change.
They are a reminder that there is beauty in everything in this world; a reminder that there is hope, even in this neighborhood where abandoned buildings, empty lots, and new developments outnumber affordable housing.
But that’s life in the ‘hood now. In my younger days, there weren’t new developments in Humboldt Park or Logan Square; at least not anywhere near me. In my neighborhood, we were all poor and life was great. Sure, as children we wanted for things, but not having them fueled our imaginations and challenged our creativity, as we were forced to invent the games we played. We made up our own rules and played hide-and-seek ’till dusk or ’till Mami called us from the back porch door. The alleys were our playground and every day was an adventure.
The gang bangers respected the streets more and random acts of violence weren’t as much a part of our days as they are now. Somehow we were able to maintain our childhood innocence; somewhat clueless to the ugliness that surrounded us. Most of us dreamed of growing up to be the same things other kids wanted to be: teachers, doctors, lawyers, and such. We didn’t need wind chimes to remind us that there was still hope and beauty, we lived in hope and created our beauty.
It would be years before we saw limitations.
We grew up and began to see the truth of where we lived, the abject hopelessness of life. Some of us stayed and gave in to that hopelessness. Some of us moved on and left that life behind, choosing to pursue the dreams we had learned to believe in. And some, like me, made our way back, and tonight, I return to my childhood as the memories are brought to life by the curious sound of wind chimes in da ‘hood.