Still here in Camden—thinking about it…

When I moved back to Camden after a hiatus of ten years in North and Central Jersey and Central Pennsylvania, I thought I’d stay a year in this brick HUD row house. This Cramer Hill split-level was next to my family and my daughter was a baby. It would be great for a year, maybe two, I thought.

My daughter will be thirty-three this month and I’m still in this house. We almost moved a few times—looked at houses, but never made the move. Why, I don’t know. Inertia? Was it too difficult to move? I’ve done other things that are much harder than moving.

My husband loves our house. (That’s him in the photo.) When he came from Cuba almost twelve years old, he thought it quite a grand home. He still does so he is not motivated to move.

I’m blessed to live next to my family. We don’t have to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house—we’re separated only by a cyclone fence. My neighbors are good working class people, family people, much like the people who moved into the Anthony Park Homes built in 1961.

Another Camden advantage for me when I worked was an easy commute. I drove three miles or less…when I taught English as a Second Language in Camden City Public Schools for more than nineteen years and when I taught ESL for Catholic Community Services in East Camden for about six years. How much more time was available to me if I think about those short commutes from Cramer Hill to East Camden or South Camden!

What makes me sad about living here is the reputation of my city. When I give my address as Camden, people look wary. Camden? For sure, there are things that are bad here. We hear noises late at night that we determine—car backfiring? Fireworks? Gunshots? Infrequent, but true.

Let me emphasize there is good, too. That would be another blog…maybe a hundred blogs. My years here have introduced me to great people who I have loved dearly—students, co-workers, neighbors. Most Camden residents are decent, but people outside the city don’t know about them.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t like something different for my life. I do love Home and Garden TV! Sometimes I’d like a bigger house in the suburbs, not a row house. Sometimes I’d like a bigger yard and more space to park.   But, hey, sometimes I wish I was eighteen and knew what I know now.

No matter what, I’m still here and doing okay.




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