“Therefore, you should probably go to bed.”
“Okay. I will be back in early May.”
“Alright, love you bye.”
“Love you too, goodnight.”
A typical, weekly conversation comes to a very stereotypical end. Another phone call to my grandfather ends because he is, as he puts it, old. He really just is tired and once it is past 9:30 P.M. he typically falls asleep.
I am excited to go back to my hometown. Which is odd, because I hate where I live. Do not get me wrong, I love my friends and family. However, Johnstown is not the prettiest place to be. It is not the prettiest place to live. It is not the safest place to live.
I could continue, but I do not know how many hyperlinked stories you would want to read.
It is truly ironic. That the drug problem would follow my family.
My grandfather left the Bronx to escape the crime wave during the late 1970’s and 1980’s. The crack epidemic was rampant. People laid passed out on the streets.
And yet, after the “War on Drugs,” drugs are still a problem (I have opinions on the “War on Drugs” but that is not the focus of this blog). We moved from a crack epidemic to an opioid epidemic. I think when my family left the Bronx they thought they avoided an environment of hypodermic needles and people passed out in bathrooms. But, alas, crime does not care about what environment it finds itself in; it will adapt.
Last summer, I went on a run and almost stepped on a disposed needle.
Last summer, a police officer overdosed on heroin in the evidence locker of the police department.
Every month, someone passes out in the Sheetz bathroom on Broad Street after overdosing.
Thank God it is cold in Johnstown, that way the needle-scarred arms are hidden behind heavy coats.
My city might be crumbling, infrastructure failing, people dying, but I guess it still is home. But, it is not home like how some people adore the physical location where they live.
No, Johnstown is home because my family is there. And if my family moved, I would also. Because that is the story of my family, we move from an island, to the projects, to the city, to the suburbs.
After all, as Francisco Alarcon said, “I carry my roots with me all the time rolled up, I use them as my pillow.”
Johnstown on a nice day: