In Your Neighborhood

A day in the life of my neighborhood

Bearing witness to the anger, conflict, noise, confusion and the fear that exists in everyday life, with hope

Photo by Richard Asinof

A young author shares her story about the many things she experiences in her city neighborhood.

By Chloe Moers
Posted 10/1/18
An insightful story offered about what we see – and what we don’t see – that is happening in our neighborhoods and our streets, by someone who is both a participant and an observer.
What value do we place in listening to the stories about our lives, not the fictional dramas and reality shows on TV? How do we forge a path for young voices to share with us their own stories? What would happen if students got to ask questions of candidates, and not reporters, at a candidate’s forum? What are the skills required to learn to listen in 10 different ways?
It is hard to feel heard if someone is always telling you: shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about, particularly when you are younger. Or, to be discounted, ignored or patronized, because your story is not to be believed. Or, to be denied a voice because your story did not fit into the prevailing narrative.
We have patient-centered medical homes, we have student-centered education initiatives, we have the #MeToo movement, and yet, changing the status quo requires changing the political equation. The first step is to engage in conversation and convergence, being able to share your story and have it validated, in order to build an engaged community, one where you belong.

Editors Note: At the recent 2018 Health Equity Summit, ConvergenceRI led a workshop on the art of story telling. As part of that exercise, participants were asked to answer the question: where do you belong? Next, they were asked to draw a picture of their own neighborhood, without using words; then they were asked to talk about the choices they made in the images they drew.

The responses were revealing; most participants drew images of their neighborhood as a reflection of their own homes and yards. One participant, Chloe Moers, showed conflict and anger in the drawing of her neighborhood.

ConvergenceRI suggested that Moers expand the drawing into a story about her neighborhood, for publication in the newsletter. Here is her story.

PROVIDENCE – To my right is construction; to my left is anger. Above the ceiling is terror and to the back is abuse. How do these things come about and why are they here? These are questions I ask myself on days where I feel confined within the four walls of my home.

Construction turns my dreams into rumbles at night. My unconscious mind takes in the noise heard outside and processes it as danger and stress. It takes it in and molds it into my nightly experiences, creating a daytime self with purple and red eyes yearning for a deep, peaceful slumber.

Gano Street is a busy street, night and day, with plenty of city sounds. Drunks roam the cross streets in the night and afternoon, carrying bottles and leaving them behind as litter, expecting the glass to crumble and disappear with the weight of time or the sweep of a broom.

My decent home is one of carefulness, in contrast to the glass, plastic bags, cigarettes and spoiled food that litter the sidewalks. At times, walking on the road is safer for the soles of my feet that can become damaged when wearing thin shoes when walking on sidewalks.

Beginning at sunrise, my mornings are quiet. Birds chirp on power lines and play with one another, fluttering in the air. A swirl of colors – blues, pinks, whites, grays, oranges, greens and yellows – fill my morning surroundings throughout the seasons.

Each spring the pink blossoming trees hold a special place in my heart; for those several weeks, it feels more peaceful than the rest of the year. The pink petals fill the air with love and beauty, comforting even those who are most alarmed.

Walking to the bus stop
When it is time to walk to the bus stop, I pay attention to some very noticeable things. Mothers grip the hands of their wandering children and pull them roughly along side them to match their adult pace.

Always in a hurry, these parents do not appear to see time as working with them; they are always fighting the current, trying not to drown. Their lives are always a blur, in a rush. This feeling of hurry and adrenaline is forced upon the child.

The trick is that children intuitively know how wrong this is, and they feel anxiety and stress because of how wrong this is, and so they cry. But crying was not in the mother’s schedule in her rushed list of the day’s tasks.

So she responds instinctually to what she believes will work: she yells, threatens and belittles the child until the child feels too much despair and fear to cry any longer.

This cycle repeats itself day after day, until the child either follows the lead of the parent or decides the opposite way. Hopefully, love and hope does not run out too fast for the child. All I can do is watch; for every word I speak, every glance I give only seems to result in more frustration, fear and the urge to rush by the parent.

Visible pain
Some days I walk on the streets, close to dark, to come back to my place of living called home. Along the way I see men smoking with one another, occasionally hollering at a woman or complaining about what is not set in stone.

I see one beer go down, now two, now vodka, now a blunt and now cigarettes, and I see the pain in them; the pain they appear to find uncontrollable.

Through that pain, I envision a scenario where they must be telling their wives to rush more, and through that rushing, for the children, a cycle of abuse continues, having to rush to the bus each morning, day after day, until winter.

The silence of winter
In winter, all is silent, except for the sound of vehicles roaming the streets. Life feels as if it is being preserved, slowing down to an almost frozen stop. Yet a feeling of unease continues to manifest itself in the people around me as we ride the bus together.

At home, living above me, there are people who feel they cannot leave their apartment. They feel they are trapped and cannot leave each other; they seem to forget that all they have to do is unlock the front door.

Through this claustrophobia that comes from feeling trapped, alone with one another, I hear their screams, the banging against the walls, what seems to me a call for help. Would they accept such help, if given?

To me, it seems that they are trapped within their own minds, and they are creating what they fear the most, living their lives in fear.

Right, left, up and back. Life flows on.

Chloe Moers is a high school student at the MET school.


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