Watching them leave

Most of what I write here comes from a place of a heavy heart. Much of it from a place where if I’m not honest with myself, it shouldn’t be written. No motive. No agenda. Just words from a place deep in the reserve of brutal honesty, and a place that has meaning to me. If it doesn’t hit me, I would rather this space be empty then fill it with empty words.

“Oh, Pueblo is a great place to love, it’s just a hard place to live.”

A few days after last month’s issue, I had the tremendous displeasure of seeing someone I love drive off knowing the times I will get to see her will be less and less.

An hour or so earlier in a conversation, she told me, “I had to get out. I was stuck. There was nothing left for me here.”

This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this. This isn’t the frustration of high school students hungry to see the world, hungry for freedom or hungry to escape the confines of their parents.  These are professionals, or would-be professionals, leaving.

Teachers, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and community servants all have said, “I’m so tired of this place.”
“I’m tired of the people who are just in it for themselves.”
“I’m tired of that organization who won’t work with us.”
“I’m tired of that person who has a grudge against that person.”
“I’m tired of that business owner who will not get along with that other business.”

When you watch someone leave, in a truck that wasn’t bought here leave for a place that isn’t here, leave for someone that doesn’t live here, leave their friends here, leave their family here and set up a new life in a place worth staying in, then maybe you’ll understand the heartbreak upon hearing the words, “there’s nothing for me here.”

Maybe I’m just angry but, I don’t think there’s enough anger over the level of dysfunction and mediocrity that has set in. I don’t think those who are making decisions really understand the pain of seeing their child leave for another place knowing they’ll be back for holidays—maybe. They don’t see their favorite shop close because the owners grew too old and the business wasn’t lucrative enough for their children to take over. They don’t see their fathers sell their water because it’s more profitable to sell water than it is to sell what they grow. They don’t hear stories where students in District 60 want to grow up to live on welfare. They don’t see their friends and family, frustrated by the schools, by city council by… by… by…

My god. How do we stop this?

Oh, Pueblo is a great place to love, it’s just a hard place to live. Everybody loves this town but it’s hard to love it here.

How long can we all stay and fight for a place that doesn’t fight for us? How long can we endure when those that can have the power to change our future neither understand the problem nor care to see a problem exists?

There is a group of 20 individuals that could turn the entire town around in 5 years. Not a generation but five years. There’s another group of 20 individuals that are fine with things just the way they are and are happy to see it exist in this state.

What’s the way out? It’s understanding that what we have been doing is not working fast enough and we aren’t working together. If this was a natural disaster we all would be united together. But this disaster, and it is one, isn’t sensational enough for the local TV networks to devote 24 hours of live coverage. How can you portray on TV a flood of despair or the destruction of lives without a fire?

In the next five years, I may watch most of a generation leave this place because there was nothing for them. To the those who are leaving, if you would be so kind, would you please have your future pick you up at the back of the PULP office, near the incomplete Riverwalk with the aquatic center, a few blocks away from a call center; so each time I can feel the shock of watching you leave.

I’ll be here even if I’m the only one. Someone has to remember all those who left.

-by John Rodriguez, Publisher of PULP (@johnmrod)

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