There's a street corner in Ghent, one that I frequent now that I live Downtown, that in High School seemed impossibly far away from the streets in Ocean View and Camellia where I grew up.
It was almost a foreign land to me then; a place I looked on with the excitement and wonder of a Parisian tourist visiting the Champ de Mars (ok, not that much enthusiasm. Excuse my hyperbole). In fall and winter, the bus from Maury High to the EVMS Medical School would careen through residential areas and shopping districts dusted lightly with frost in the early morning and, screaming to a halt in front of the hospital doors, eject its drowsy student cargo into the brisk air. On the journey to our morning locale, the corner would blur past us.
In the mid-afternoon when classes were done, a few of us would follow Colonial Avenue down to that corner. We passed offices and banks on our way, tagging our names in black paint down abandoned alleyways, and occasionally ripping our jeans on the concrete as we fell from skateboards or bicycles. The shops and cafes that now litter the streets either did not exist or held little value to us then. If I was walking with some lady love, our intertwined fingers would trade between her hoodie pockets and the pockets of my denim jacket, and we'd struggle to keep a shared set of headphones in both of our ears. We clambered as one into tiny booths at Yorgo's Bageldashery, and then dove into the sea of punk and ska records at Skinnies.
With stomachs and backpacks full, we grudgingly trudged back up the few blocks to Llewellyn towards the High School as the sun dipped low, and either caught the after school busses or hitched rides back down Granby Street towards the Bay. The lights of the city drifted further from sight, and we returned to our more familiar domains; small businesses and local shops gave way to Wal-Mart and Food Lion, and cramped city streets to the sprawl of suburbia.