Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ready, Set -

My sister is, and always has been, a delight.

She's growing into herself, right now, just on the edge between childhood and the beautiful, mysterious future of growing up, and she's discovering so many things with a kind of freshness and joy - seeing the world for the first time. Sure, there are hardships involved, like understanding shifting relationships at school, saying farewell to the children's menu, developing distance and aloofness and trying not to depend on adults. But the closing of her past is what enables her to seek out the shining moments of self, of being new, of a growing perspective and maturity.

And I, I want to make the world a better place for her, so that when she goes out - with friends, in her first car, without us - she can find a world of music, of earth-shattering films and plays, of a community of art.

My sister has always lived in Columbia. I, who moved here at twelve, have been slowly (and sometimes, reluctantly) adjusting to life in the suburbs. I know that I fell prey to the concept that Columbia was not a real place - I was stubborn, unwilling to adapt, and even now reject some suburban notions, such as the constantly irritating lack of sidewalks. My sister has none of that; this is her home. She is safe here, walking to school, sledding in the back yard - and she is happy here, with theatre camp and band practice, with friends she made in elementary school. All of that is a part of her, important, and I do not begrudge Columbia for the gifts of my sister's childhood.

But for me, big sister, former Baltimorean, lover of city parks and changing landscapes - I think we deserve more.

As my mother said, Columbia is a verb. Let's get moving.

Mentioning Symphony Woods can bring mixed - and emotionally charged - reactions. I am not unsympathetic when some deny change to a place they love, in fear that it might never be the same as it was in their youth, in their memories. Attachment to memory is a part of all of us, and it forms, sometimes, the basis of who we are and how we identify ourselves. It stems from love, I'm sure, but it can lead to something else - a stagnant and still refusal to see reality, a grove of trees disused but for two times a year.

We can't make time stop, or reverse, or forever preserve the things we love. We can't let our memories stop us from committing to a wider future of new possibilities and yes, change.

Seeing the plans for Symphony Woods, I had a strong reaction. I began to hope. I began to see the seeds of a city, a broader presence in Maryland, an inspiration for growth. Creating a space for more culture, more art, more music and theatre and playfulness - that is an amazing endeavor, a chance to say yes to a Columbia which can be a part of the world, can be a center for ingenuity, can be more than just memory.

And in holding on to our past, don't we deny my sister her memories of a Symphony Woods filled with song and sweetness? Of sculpture and performance? Can we reject - the way I rejected Columbia, at twelve years old - a future which might change and evolve and make us better, a future of concerts and plays, restaurants, of light and sound filtering through trees and giving a voice to us, all of us, the Columbia which will not fade?

My sister is learning that growing up is hard, sometimes. I'm learning that growing up means finding change, in myself, in giving up my limitations. And we are all growing up, all the time, from moments of love and birth to the sadness of saying goodbye - moments of seeing something new.

We all change, every day, every moment, and where we live and how we find delight should change with us - and is changing, whether we choose to see it or not. Columbia is more than our memories. Columbia is living.

So let's live, here, in our home of birth and memory and songs sung to the trees.

Let's go.

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