A reflection on this new stage in my life.
I have been writing about living my dream of settling in the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis almost since I started this blog. Before I graduated college I made plans to move into this multicultural area of town, and I had great plans for changing the world. And then God put me in a fifth grade classroom in Bolivia for a year. And I learned things about the world that I never would have known if I had jumped headfirst into inner-city life in the US. Bolivia was harder than I could have imagined, and I dreamed of the day that I would live in Minneapolis
After a year volunteering in South America and a few months of commuting to a barista position from the suburbs, I landed a job and house in Phillips. The acquisitions came within a month of each other, and life since then has been one new experience after another.
I wore dress pants and a bright coral short sleeve dress shirt my first day working at the school in Phillips. Office staff, teachers, and principals all wore jeans. I thought I was quick because I caught a boy calling another girl a crybaby in Spanish, but failed to realize in my first months that the students I work with often go home to empty houses, parents working late at minimum wage jobs to provide for their families.
And my new house? It took me several weeks to adjust to the beauty of my remodeled room and the convenience of our fancy kitchen. How could I live here while our neighbors struggled to pay heating bills and cooked on barely-functional stoves? I still don't know how I feel about the relative opulence of my place in comparison to the houses in my neighborhood.
But I do know how my students react when they find out that I live in the neighborhood. Joyful incredulousness. "Miss Kayleen, you are my neighbor! You live here too?" And my coworkers, although they don't seem to understand why, think it's cool that I am experiencing some of what the students do, and I think it creates a respect that I hope will open doors for sharing why I live how I live.
So, overall, Phillips is a dream for so many reasons, but now, more than anything else, it is home.
Photos from: tcdailyplanet.net, http://www.youtube.com/user/MainStreetProject, phillipswhittier365.blogspot.com