I have been to hallowed ground, and I left in tears.
It happens whe we travel. I get caught up in the history, the story, the moments that existed decades ago in the very spot where I am standing. It happened again today.
Actually, just driving through Gary, Indiana is enough to bring anyone to tears. There is not much to show for this old steel town. The high-rise apartments are vacant, graffitied, and broken. Store fronts are emptied and crumbling. Of the 7,000 public buldings available, 6,500 stand vacant. With a population of about 88,000 there were roughly 5,700 violent crimes reported just last summer, including a shooting on Main Street in broad daylight. Gary is bad. Gary is the bad that bad thinks is bad. It is by far the saddest city I have seen in all of our US travels. the pictures do not begin to do it justice. It seems even hardscrabble cities have some redeeming qualities, something to offer. If there is something like that in Gary, we couldn't find it.
So why on earth would we haul our two year old into this inner city ghost town?
If you know me, you already know the answer.
Gary, Indiana is the boyhood home of Michael Jackson.
It was also the home of Janet - and Randy and Tito and Marlon and LaToya and Jermaine and Jackie and Rebbie - and their parents, which is the most fascinating a part of all. In case you're not counting, that's 11 people. They lived in a house roughly the width of two school buses. They lived in this house in one of the saddest, most run-down cities In the U.S. (don't take my word for it - google it). Although this particular house is lovingly restored and maintained by a Jackson relative, it was by FAR the most beautiful thing in the entire city. The homes on either side of this and down the street, are all in disrepair, and this block was the nice one. Still - the Jacksons did it - in this little house they lived, they played, they nurtured superstars in living conditions that many people would find deplorable. They made it happen. They didn't wait for things to happen, or wait for fate to take its course, they MADE magic - and wrapping my little brain around that has taken me most of the day.
I realize that 2300 Jackson Street looks adorable, but take a peek at the rest of the place (and yes, this spanned the entire downtown, and most was covered with graffiti):
We knew it was risky but didn't realize how positively stupid it was to be walking around alone until we got back into the car and saw a kid walking down the street in broad daylight polishing his gun (oh yes we did).
Compared to Jackson street, the rest if the day was pretty uneventful -boring even. Aside from a short stop at Ice Cream Paradise outside of Indianapolis, and dinner at a Cracker Barrel in Louisville, KY, we never even got out of the car. It was a very long day for Rico and I, even longer for Yoda - but she handled it like a champ. A few dollar store toys, an entire bowl full of stickers and a muffin tin full of play doh kept her busy between naps, spontaneous sing-feasts and Finding Nemo. Tomorrow we should be at least as far as Nashville, and with any luck, all the way to Georgia.