Home : Thank You, Memphis – Dominic Lawson – Medium
On Nov. 6, 1982, you welcomed me into the world with open arms. You made the first moments of my life a pleasant and smooth transition. You didn’t care about what I looked like or my tax bracket. All you knew was that I was apart of you and that I was going to need your help.
From there you set me up with many programs. Starting with a place to stay. I learned a lot growing up in the Lamar Terrace projects like how to be tough and to look out for my fellow neighbor. The assistance you provided in healthcare was very helpful as a kid growing up with epilepsy. I really enjoyed that after school program at The Salvation Army. I made alot of friends and that is when I slowly started to come out of my shell. As a kid that was probably on the spectrum, that place helped me tremendously.
You also educated me with some of the best teachers that you had to offer. I admit that your resources were limited but you did the best you could. I am grateful for that. You also fed me while I was at school. I knew I could depend on you for at least two meals a day that not only maximized my learning but gave my mom peace of mind that I was not going hungry at school. Times were often tough so knowing that my little sister and I could depend on you for that meant everything. From Bruce Elementary to Westwood High School, you always had my back.
You provided me with a lot of fun moments as well. I still remember the grand opening of the children’s museum. It was full of wonder and excitement. I can still hear the sounds of the arcade and feel of the wind on my face of my favorite ride, the Tennessee Tilt, at Libertyland. Even now when I eat a pronto pup, I travel back in time to become that scrawny little black kid from South Memphis. Tiger basketball was excellent as I watched my childhood hero Penny Hardaway show the world that basketball here is not a sport but a way of life. I still hate the Bearcats to this day! Let me not forget Saturday morning wrestling with Jerry Lawler and being terrified of the Moon Dogs at the WMC Channel 5 studio. We really had some good times.
However, as I got older, I started to hear the detractors even more. “ Leave here.” “There’s no opportunity here.” Unfortunately, I listened. I only focused on what you hadn’t done for me and not enough for what you had. I was very impressionable at that time as I figured out the next stage in my life. So in the end as an adult, I left. I always wondered if you ever understood that it was not an easy decision.
So I served my country, got out, and worked an excellent paying job. By the standards of where I come from, most would say I was successful. I made it. I still checked in to see how you were doing. Every time I missed you more and more. There was a hole that no amount of success could ever fill. How could I leave when you gave me so much?
Would you even take me back?
So I decided to come back home. Sure enough, there you were embracing me with open arms. I’m not sure I deserved it but you didn’t care. You were just happy to have me back. However, this time it was my turn to give back to you, the place that invested everything it could in me. So my wife and I planted roots here to affirm our commitment to you. We started a company here so that we can hire other talented people you invested in to try to convince them to stay. Our office is right on Union Ave, walking distance from Bruce Elementary and where the Lamar Terrace used to be. Talk about full circle. I mentor the next generation in two different non-profits, and I sit on the board of a tap dance company because the arts have always been important to you.
I’m ready to help write the next chapter of your story.
I hope you are as proud of me as I am you. I am just grateful for everything you have done for me from teaching me to ride my bike at the Southland Mall traffic light course to making sure I was safe with the community center camps during the summer. I’m glad that more and more people are starting to see just how great you are and moving here from other places. Before I forget, someone has a very important birthday next year don’t they? I can’t wait to celebrate it with you. I feel safe here. I feel welcomed here. I feel loved here. And no matter what name you may go by, Memphis, the Bluff City, or Memph-10, there is one name I will always know you as…
Happy 901 Day!