By Jazkia Phillips

As each year passes, I can’t help but to find something new to love about you. The final days of June that you have claimed as yours, to me, feel like settling into silence… in the best way. It’s the type of silence I can only find in a space overpowered by noise. Because you are loud. I’m talking, every lyric effortlessly floating four blocks away and dancing on ears clear as day, loud.

The busiest streets with the biggest cars and the boldest drivers have nothing on you, that’s how loud you get. I am enamored by the very deliberate and intentional way you take up space. I love that about you. I’ve known you for eighteen years, you’ve been alive for twenty six, but I have never properly thanked you.

At age six, I didn’t know you that well, but still managed to weave my way through a crowd and land at your stage. Fast forward some years and it would require nothing less than absolute force to get me up there. But I guess that’s how childhood works, right? Insecurities and doubts don’t drag themselves along for the ride until at least ten or eleven.

At sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, all I do is eat and people watch, looking at cute guys and girls, never brave enough to actually say anything. I’m old enough now to where I can see you on my own, without parental supervision. You look as beautiful as ever. Green, red, blue, and black low riders with diamonds in the paint and hoop earrings caught in the sunlight highlight this beauty. Black bodies have been replaced with black lives matter signs, but we all seem to find our way back to you.

You are the hand that holds us all together. Our physical environment has morphed and molded itself into unfamiliar faces and buildings but you have stayed the same. The hood doesn’t always feel like the hood these days but it’s all good cause you’re always there, a snapshot in time. So, thank you. Thank you for letting me fall in love with you. Again, and again, and again.

Reprinted courtesy of I Love This Place PDX, a CENTER youth project.
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