I’ve seen a meme going around many blogs I read which makes June all about posting alphabetically. Specifically, blogging about something in your life that starts with each letter of the alphabet everyday (or nearly everyday) throughout the month. Being that it’s already June 5th, and I’m running late as usual, I will post the first three letters today and (hopefully) keep posting daily for the rest of the month!
A is for Allentown
Allentown is the name of the city in Pennsylvania where I did a lot of my growing up. It’s not particularly large, but it’s not small either, and most people haven’t heard of it. In fact, if people do know of it, it’s usually through the Billy Joel song of the same name. I grew up in the Center City portion, where crime was fairly common and most of the streets were basically alleyways. A week after my family finally moved out, a man was shot and killed right behind our old garage. I remember my neighborhood vividly and still often visit it via Google Maps Street View. There was a tiny garden in our tiny backyard, and it’s mostly been paved over last I checked, but an Earth Day sapling I got from school many years ago is still there and thriving. It’s big enough that it looks like it might knock over the garage and I feel oddly proud of that.
Goofy and homoerotic video aside, the song portrays the city and surrounding areas well. Which leads me to my next letter…
B is for Bethlehem
Bethlehem is one of Allentown’s neighboring cities, and if you ask the locals, Billy Joel’s song is actually it and Bethlehem Steel. The Steel was a fixture of Bethlehem and it’s surrounding areas for ages, but when it shut down in the 1960s, it put hundreds of people out of work and upset the economy in a way the area’s never really recovered from. Locals are very proud of it’s manufacturing history, but for some strange reason really aren’t into the Billy Joel song. The Steel building, which stood empty for decades, is now a casino and shopping mall.
I moved to Bethlehem the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I was attending Catholic school there, and while I was used to school being very conservative and oppressive, I found the city to be even more so. While living in Allentown I had been more interested in my personal safety and rarely went outside, in the very suburban Bethlehem I found a quiet community with loud opinions. It wasn’t until I transferred to the local performing arts school in my junior year that I started feeling welcome there, because despite it’s religious zealots, it also had a big downtown art scene, and I felt a little better when I wasn’t reminded daily I was going to hell.
I don’t know any songs named after my specific Bethlehem (there are 10 in the US alone), but here’s one named after one of them by Paula Cole. I can still relate to it rather well.
C is for California
After finishing up college, my boyfriend and I packed up our tiny apartment and moved to the west coast. I was happy to leave the east coast behind for reasons that mostly related to the weather. His family was living in the Bay Area, so we moved in with them for a bit before finding our own place. I have a feeling we’ll be here for a long, long time.
Living here has been a huge improvement in practically every aspect of my life: my allergies bother me a lot less in this climate, I’ve made many like-mind friends, the weather is much more agreeable, and the people here seem much nicer than their east coast counterparts. And as I have mentioned before, this side of the country has an abundance of public restrooms, something Pennsylvania and much of the east coast as a whole sorely lacks.
The only problem I have is that the drivers here are simply not aggressive enough. In fact, I wonder call the driving style out here passive aggressive. Ah well, you can take the girl out of the east coast and all that.