Still I raise the flag

Fireworks + lightning + thunder = a lot of sound and fury…

Today was a pretty odd day. By virtue of the 4th falling on a Wednesday, we get only a one-day midweek break, i.e. work tomorrow, and work yesterday, but no work today! I invited some people over here to jump in the pool and play some spikeball and/or gotcha this afternoon, but everyone I contacted either was out of town, had other plans or didn’t get back to me at all. Honestly this wasn’t extremely surprising or dispiriting–due to several factors, I have a modest number of friends in town and no one with whom I consider myself especially tight. Still, it was strange to go through the entire day without seeing a single person I knew.

Now that’s not to say that I stayed in the house all day. I ran a few errands, and in the midst of those I took a nice leisurely walk around the town of Clovis. I left my car near 21st and Main, checked out the local July 4th celebration (which seemed to include live music and not much else), picked up a blizzard from the nearby DQ, and headed south down back streets and alleyways. I ended up just to the east of the historic (?) downtown area, cut over across Prince and then wound my way back north. After reaching 14th I ran the rest of the way back along Prince and 21st.

It was nice to smell burgers on grills and see various family gatherings and groups of kids out running around. Clovis is reputed to be full of friendly people, and indeed those to whom I passed close enough were quick to exchange a wave and a greeting. The town is also, unfortunately, full of abandoned and crumbling houses, yards chock-full of junked cars and other large man-made carcasses (e.g. the shell of a trampoline and a busted billiards table), trash strewn everywhere, hungry and neglected-looking dogs, gang-themed graffiti, and a general sense of a population resigned to being “dirt poor”. Now I did see a number of houses which look like their owners, though clearly of modest means, take some pride in what they do possess. These dwellings, however, seemed to be the exception to the rule. I’ll also grant that every city has its rundown areas; they just don’t usually comprise 2/3 to 3/4 of the town.

By writing this, I know I’m opening myself to criticisms along the lines of “well since you’re in an area of such need, what are you doing to help? How are you making the town, and its residents’ lives, better?” That’s certainly a valid question to ask. I did spend a lot of afternoons this spring helping to coach the local high school tennis teams, but aside from that and periodic goodwill donations, I can’t point to anything notably charitable I’ve been doing. My training pipeline involves long and unpredictable hours, and starting a master’s degree on the side has further cut into my spare time, but if and when I’m able, I would like to get more involved with local efforts to do good, whether it is through tutoring, habitat for humanity (both of which I’ve spent significant time doing in the past), or something else. Anyone who reads this and is or has been active in volunteering is welcome to make suggestions.

In the meantime, it is, as it has always been, hard to find positives about living here. I usually just fall back on the “it could be worse” angle, which may not be ideal, but it gets me through. There are many things which I have and do not take for granted–family and friends (though mostly hundreds or thousands of miles away), a steady job, a nice place to live, the ability to fully support myself, etc. On second thought, “steady job” may not be an accurate description, but my professional situation is another topic for another post. The bottom line is that I am here, probably for a long time, and it’s on me to make the best of the situation.

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