If we really think about our lives as children, we can often conjure up certain "landmarks" and defining moments which shaped who we are today. Not having a father-figure present since I was about three years old could have been a severe detriment had I allowed it to be such. I also have to credit my mom in that she never denigrated my father's name despite his abandonment.
Today I reunited with some acquaintances from the apartment complex where I lived from age 6 until 17. All of us were in the same boat growing up, as we were raised by single moms while having little to no communication with our respective fathers. The apartments themselves were so cramped that the bedroom square-footage was the smallest allowable by law. But as kids we didn't see this as any major inconvenience. After all, none of us knew any other way of life. I guess that's why when my family moved to a three-bedroom townhouse in 1986, it was like the Taj Mahal to us. Anyhow, it was great catching up with my old friends, as we basically laughed (very loudly, much to the chagrin of the other restaurant patrons), cried and shared anecdotes for four hours straight. While the memories of such a humble upbringing weren't always pleasurable, it did help us to realize how we were all fortunate to become the productive members of society we are today. Sure, life hasn't been perfect but we've been spared some potentially horrible fates. Unfortunately, some of our other peers from back in the day weren't so lucky. We shared stories of those who did jail time because of drug use and/or domestic violence. Worse yet, some even suffered an untimely death.
To this day, very few of us ever drive by the old neighborhood anymore due to its deterioration over the years. Nevertheless, the life lessons we compiled while there will always play a part in our everyday lives.