I took a trip to the West Coast in search of newfound dreams to see if that was where dreams really came true, as they say. I left behind everything and the memories of the way things were, just to return many years later to see nothing but memories stayed.
The life in between those memorable times had taken a vicious turn: nothing but death, hate, jealousy, envy, murder, theft and total addictions.
My God! What happened to the way things used to be, the way I had left them? I have children now with whom I wanted to share my childhood memories upon our return. But what was there to explain? None of the good things existed anymore.
Parts of places that used to be have either disappeared or have been transformed into gloomy places.
The population has fallen from the violent killings that happen still daily to date
Unbelievable: I can't believe so many classmates and crushes and first kisses and talented youth have gone astray. To only hear who and what happened to him and how she did that to her own.
There's always something in the wind that allows the devil to keep passing through.
He's still here, I see, because the killing won't stop and all the rest of his works still exist
At one time in life I recall this old town being filled with good fortune and dreams. It's hard to believe that after so many years our lives have been put on hold. I sat behind brothers and sisters in class who was blessed with so much talent from God. It hurts my soul to see our generation so deeply damned.
I always thought I was blessed to be raised in a place that once had so much calamity.
Blown minds: But along came crack cocaine and dollar bills and low-lows and Sony systems that go boom that made all the heads turn each and every way, inside and out as well, minds blown totally.
Is this the same generation that I hold in all these wonderful memories? The ones that I smile about on a warm pleasant day while I'm in the West having a good day?
Then I return home one day, reminiscing about the good old days. But as I drive around the city, I hardly see the faces of those I once dreamed of so clearly
Where is everyone? Is he still around? How is she? Does he still play good football? The only things I hear is that they're either locked up for life or locked under for death.
Yeah, they got life or five to 25, or didn't you know, they got killed?
Hell no, I didn't know, I didn't want to know. That was my boy or my girl!
I only have six weeks to stay here with my family where life is supposed to be good. But I spend most the time praying for guidance and that the crossfire never comes my way.
The way it used to be was so simple because we all had love for one another. Now, I can't tell what has happened to all my sisters and brothers.
Next time I return, I hope that life here will change for our young ones' sake. I will keep my memories in my prayers, hoping that those left would want to make a change.
If we keep letting so many go and so many die how can we ever stand strong together? United we stand, right? Divided they fall, but that's reversed in our generation today.
We cannot unite, and all we have done is fall, so what else can be done to help us? It begins with each of us looking into ourselves and seeing what each of us is worth.
Then we can put that all together. Yeah, unite, then only what's left over will fall.
Whatever is your power, be strong about it.
X Tanya Braxton-Talley grew up in Youngstown, moving to California after her junior year at the Rayen School. She has lived in the Los Angeles area for 13 years, where she is a caseworker who helps women prepare for and find employment.