I work in downtown Lubbock, an area which is slated for a massive revitalization and redevelopment, but which is currently not one of the more attractive areas of town. (And before you go there in the comments, no, I don't really know what you would call an attractive area of Lubbock.) At one time, it was a busy and interesting place. I remember how exciting it was, as a kid, to drive down Broadway, paved with bricks and with beautiful Christmas decorations hanging from the streetlights. Before there were other library branches, my mom would take us downtown to the Mahon Library every week for story time and to let us check out books. Generations of Lubbockites have stories about going to the Hemphill-Wells department store with their moms, to shop for back-to-school clothes and (if you were lucky) eat at the lunch counter. (As a sidenote, the building where HW once was is now the operations center of PlainsCapital Bank, a building in which I worked for several years. There are still lots of cool nooks and crannies in that building that remind you of its previous life.) Somewhere along the line, though, businesses started to move out, and the district started to slip.
In recent years, some of the downtown buildings have been renovated into condos and lofts, but you can't really say that anybody lives in downtown Lubbock, and this is one reason why I think there's maybe not as much pride around this part of town. When a piece of trash blows into your front yard, you pick it up and throw it away. When a piece of trash blows into the alley behind your office, well, who cares?
I care. I work here. I grew up here. I have memories here. My project today was to spend an hour picking up trash in downtown Lubbock. I brought a 55 gallon trash bag and a pair of gloves with me, and went outside during my lunch to fill the bag.
To the lady walking into her office from her car: "Service project!"
To the man who was walking down the street:"Civic pride!"
To the police officer who pulled up behind me to check out what I was doing: "So that it won't be on the ground anymore!"
People thought I was cray-zay. But it felt good to be out there doing something, and the cool air made the task a really comfortable one. I actually ended up working just under an hour, because the bag had grown too heavy to keep carrying. I'm going to call that a success.
Tonight I am grateful for a reminder to stop and feel the awe and joy of Christmas, just like my children.