October 11, 2005

Explaining II


OTRgirl. There's a wonderful band named Over-the-Rhine. I'm not named for them. Rather, the band is named for my inner-city neighborhood in Cincinnati. I've moved a few times since then, and now have a house with plants and a lawn to mow, but growing up I was in a row house with a cement backyard. Each floor had three rooms in 'shotgun' format (stand in the front and shoot straight to the back) and a bathroom. I vowed to never be someone who lived a clueless life in the burbs. I'm trying not to be clueless, and I'm two blocks within the city limits, but 'never say never'...

Looking at me, no one can see the scrawny, tangle-haired kid with 1/4 inch callouses. The girl who loved to read on the stoop and wave at passing cars. Who walked four blocks to church and answered "Amy" to men who asked, "Yo, slim, what's your name?". Who was friends with the trucker and his wife across the street. Who grew up learning to corn-row her doll's hair. My father says we kids are bilingual because we can speak the street slang of our neighborhood, or the educated lingo of our college prep high school.

Over the Rhine. Protests at City Hall and the Board of Ed, sit-ins and walk outs. Advocating for change. Steel Drum Band practice, and swim team at the neighborhood pool. Walking to Music Hall and sneaking into the orchestra section to see the Dance Theater of Harlem. Leading tours for volunteers at my Dad's non-profit housing firm. The Drop-In-Center. Losses: godfather, godbrother, Sonny, Bob, Betina, Buddy, Mom. Bludgeoned, shot, Diabetes, Heart-Attack, Suicide, shot, Cancer.

It's at the center, but no longer the total identity. Over the Rhine.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So I checked out your links. iRhine describes OTR as Safe - Clean - Profitable. I think that is taking PR a little bit too far.

Did you notice that the band's message forum is called The Orchard? Isn't that sweet? Maybe they will have a section called Prince of Peace too...

And the interior of the new Drop Inn Center looks fantastic - all that natural light. I haven't been there since Buddy died.

Karis.

OTRgirl said...

Yeah, the site options for the 'hood are aggravating. There's a highly politicized one (probably Bonnie's), but it has no pics. OTR Chamber of Commerce. Feels even more politicized in the yuppie direction than iRhine, and also has few pics. What do we know since the riots of 2000? Perhaps after everyone fled it is Safe, Clean, and Profitable.

karis said...

Dad has said that after the riots everyone who could leave, did leave. So it is the worst ever in terms of safety and livability.