"Students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin may leave campus to eat at nearby restaurants (sorry to say, it’s my teenager’s favorite thing about school this year). Whereas when the new Patrick Henry High School opened a few years back, administrators decided to literally lock the students inside the cafeteria, known by staff and students alike as 'the cage.'"
[caption id="attachment_498" align="alignleft" width="300"] Porno shop near my childhood home: Photo Credit Matt Ames[/caption]
Beth goes on to talk about economic and social disparities between the towns, a topic that enthralls me. I was raised by an unemployed single mom in Roanoke but went to Harvard for graduate school.
I had to get in on this conversation, so I posted the below comment on Beth's blog. Maybe a few readers out there will identify:
It’s overwhelming to think of the contrasts [ between Roanoke and Cambridge], but one that sticks with me is around cars. In grad school, I didn’t have one, and neither did my mother when I was growing up.
As a kid, it meant carrying groceries for a mile, walking past burnt out motels and [rough] bars on Williamson Road, and taking the bus, which is a sign of absolute depravity in Roanoke and many other Southern cities. It meant telling friends that I literally could not physically make my way to their houses to visit. It branded my family. I’d say that there are more than two Roanokes [Beth posited that there were two], because even among the down-and -out, you find strata. Without a car, we were way down low.
In Cambridge, the absence of wheels meant something very different. It was beyond common; it was a point of pride. There was no shoveling your car out and no moving it on street cleaning days. I could brag that I wasn’t filling the air with pollutants. I could hop the T or a bus without shame. I was an untethered urbanite breezing down city streets on clean-fueled public transit or my bike or the liberating power of my own two feet.
Don’t get me wrong. Cambridge is not superior to Roanoke. It’s just wildly different. I almost feel as if I should have a visa or a passport to travel between them, at least something more than four working tires and a full tank of gas.