In the summer of 19??, after my third grade year, we moved to Jackson from Greenwood. I couldn’t remember ever coming to Jackson, but here we were, living off Old Canton Road, near Colonial Mart, in a big enough house that has long been gone, replaced by a church parking lot.
That summer, like so many after until we moved when I started high school (Roll Callaway Chargers!), was a kid’s festival. There was a soda fountain at Patterson’s Drug Store, Shipley’s Donuts in Colonial Mart, and movies at Deville Cinema a bike-ride away. The neighborhood pool at Canton Avenue was so small opposing swim teams called us “The Bathtub.” We were finding place and pride and position. We were learning to fly; what a great place to find our wings.
We always look back upon early days as simple and carefree. Souvenirs tucked away here and there, found in memory and moments of craziness and struggle. Perhaps they were. Points in time, giving and secure, as we crowd and pack our brains and souls with the stuff of age and immediacy. Murals of life, brightly colored and realized, even though the lines and edges have faded. Instants of clarity, constantly inviting us to come back and breathe deeply.
Of course, we could all use the vacation of ease and from complication and in haven our childhood days recall, a retreat from the masses and amassing of life and our lives. But certainly it is there, always, that place; and there for us to use, even now with the lessons and understanding of the complexity of even then.
A year ago, we moved downtown from our offices in Fondren to make room for progress. A compelled relocation to uncertainty, from the comfort of a familiar place to one at once known and peculiar. A place of wood and green and neighborhood to one of brick and staircases and rush. And, crazy, what we found was festival all over again, with community and rich history and bucolic serenity bike rides away. The neighborhood was not just next door and all around, but upstairs and downstairs.
Our Jackson downtown and well beyond, is just as our lives before and now, rich and diverse and diverged. It is built, layer after layer, upon everything that it has seen and experienced and conquered. It both remembers and prepares. It at once embraces and reaches out, extending far beyond shelter and sanctuary to different harbors. As my third grade summer in a Jackson new and inviting, we all have within and without the opportunity to learn to fly…and we all know our wings are there for the journey.