Out with the Old (Youth Second Place)

March 6, 2014

Our second place youth winner, Jabari Jefferson, is Senior at Phelps ACE High School. His piece describes his fears about moving from his beloved old neighborhood to historic Anacostia, and how he came to love his new, big yellow house.


Housing For All Rally 2014 106b Writing Winners

Moving from my old home to a new area was a major culture shock for me. My parents explained to me that it was a way to start a new, but I wasn’t finished with the old. All my memories lied in the pavement of the very neighborhood that taught me everything I know. Why is it that the neighborhood that influences us most, influence us in a way not easily quantified?  Getting use to a new environment is hard, but with time comes acceptance. Little did I know that the change can help my understanding of life and the past. This I believe.

My old neighborhood was very dear to me. It was convenient, quiet and peaceful environment; with everything I

could possibly need. A reliable grocery store was around the corner, three busses that stopped right in front of my house (that traveled through The District) and a library resided two blocks away from me. My neighbors were tight knit and engaging. Although I was enjoying my neighborhood, my parents had another plan in mind. They wanted to relocate into The Historic District of Anacostia which they saw mass potential in. I was not sure if I was going to like my new neighborhood. Leaving an old lifestyle cuts deep and I know its the type of wound that never heals.

When I first laid eyes on the big, bright yellow and abandoned house, I excoriated all my interest of ever wanting to live there. It was a 1903 Queen Anne styled house that needed a lot of work and love. The first month there was cantankerous and I was homesick. When my parents asked if I liked it, I would feign to be excited. The nearest store was four blocks away, the bus stop was six blocks away and the nearest library was a mile away. I had a lot to adjust to.

On my way towards the bus stop, I noticed a strange old house that rested on a nearby hill. I read the sign that was sealed on its gate and it read, “Welcome to The Home of Frederick Douglas.” I was astonished that I lived close to the home of a famous African American abolitionist. Not only did Frederick Douglass live here, but other historic figures and landmarks like, The Anacostia River and The Big Chair, the world’s largest chair, reside in my neighborhood; which have shaped The District of Columbia. Although, my old neighborhood was a haven to me, my new neighborhood holds historic significance, with qualities of security, reliability and warmth.

Despite what I thought appealed to me at first, I soon realized the interesting things of my new neighborhood. I may not have the conveniences I use to have, but the history in more important to me. So many residents have tales and have experienced things from the early 1900s. I recently visited my old neighborhood a year later realizing that it wasn’t as exciting as it was a year ago when I lived there. That big yellow house has truly grown on me and has really become my home. I learned the importance and history of life rather than its luxuries.

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