February 26, 2015 and I have completed all 7 stages of winter in Cleveland. I’m done. See you next year.

The 7 Stages of Winter in Cleveland

1. Shock and Disbelief: This happens in November when I realize fall is really over and I have to find the winter clothes and put away the last of the deck furniture. Sometimes overlaps with…

2. Denial: The front swing may still be out there in hopes of that elusive “last nice day”. I don’t need a coat, I’ll just throw a scarf over my blazer, I’ll be fine.

3. Anger: Why me!?!? Gridlock, because, hey, its SNOWING!!! Sequoia’s & F-150’s that think they have magic powers so they put everyone else in danger. Driving in general. And this stupid, bulky coat!

4. Bargaining: It’s just cabin fever. I just need to get out and DO more! Go shopping! Go hear music! See friends! It’s not Winter, its me! If I just try harder Winter will go away.

5. Guilt: I shouldn’t complain about the weather. This isn’t Boston. We aren’t in endless days of darkness. I should try harder to be cheerful. I’m making everything worse by complaining. My poor family.

6. Depression: Winter will never, ever, ever end. Its true. Why bother cleaning the car, sweeping the salt off the stairs, mopping up snow melt, shoveling the drive, or wearing anything nice because it’s just going to be smeared with slush and muck and have to go to the dry cleaner anyway. I’m just going to sit on the couch with a blanket, a book and a cat until further notice.

7. Acceptance: I’ll just buy a lottery ticket and, hey if I win, we’ll take a two-week beach vacation and get spa treatments and learn salsa dancing and parasailing. But that won’t be necessary. I know winter is almost over because the garden catalogs have started to arrive.

Time to take my coat to the dry cleaner.

spring-flowers

The neighborhood I grew up in appears desolate and broken. Ten miles from where I live, its at least ten years since I’ve driven down those streets.

I made the long trip back recently for a very specific reason. To participate in a protest for Tamir Rice, the 12-year old boy shot by police outside of Cudell Recreation Center on Cleveland’s westside.

The rec center next to my elementary school, two blocks from my childhood home. The rec center where my friends and I spent countless summers swimming, playing tennis and goofing around by the clock tower.

The protest was attended by people who had traveled by bus from Ferguson, Missouri to stand in solidarity with the Cleveland protestors. I thought if they could ride a bus all night I could at least drive 25 minutes across town.

It was a hard thing to witness in a place so familiar that now no longer belongs to me.

Afterward, on the way home, I drove past my mother’s house, and was struck by how very tiny it was. (Eight people in 900 sq. feet & one bathroom – no kidding.)  I was unprepared for the unrelenting poverty.

Used to be lots of homes like my moms with overly groomed miniscule yards, flower beds and American flags flying. Now there is very little evidence of that kind of effort.

Looking the past in the face makes me pay attention to what I’m doing in the present to make a better future. How am I acting in my daily life, what am I contributing in my community, what is in my head and coming out my mouth that reduces racial injustice? Some days probably not so much.

Tomorrow I am participating in a facilitator training for the YWCA “It’s Time To Talk: Forums on Race” series. If they choose to use me as a facilitator I can help myself and other people have safe, meaningful discussions about race. Even if they choose not to use me I call spending six hours in social justice training “checking my head” a good day.

How do you check your head?

Mavis will see you out.

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Cudell Rec Center has a beautiful glass wall on the front and a sliding glass wall on the pool patio. I loved to swim in the winter and watch it snow through the steamy windows.