Ephraim Brown Essay

The keys have just been turned over to the community. It will become a kind of clubhouse.

Which is why the councillor, various city staff and a gang of kids were inside, taking a good long look, and poking around the rooms with confidence. Why were the kids confident?

Promises have been made.

Eliza-Beth said, “We want it to be a homework club, a computer lab, a dance studio for the girls, and a music room for the boys so that, instead of doing nothing, they can be in here doing something.”

Demarion said, “I want a wrestling ring because when I was a kid I was watching wrestling. I really like wrestling.” He is 11 years old.

Did he mean wrestling a la Daniel Igali, or did he mean wrestling like The Rock? And, if the latter, what would his ring name be? He laughed. “I’m not going to wrestle when I get older.”

Smart kid.

How did they develop their plans? A girl named Tiauna said, “We had a lot of meetings.”

Gene Jones, the new head of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, came and then he invited the kids to visit him at TCHC headquarters.

How did the kids get there?

Eliza-Beth said, “Mr. Eugene Jones organized a bus. Thirty kids showed up.” It was the first time some of those kids had been downtown. Mr. Eugene Jones gave them a tour of TCHC headquarters, and he listened some more.

The house may not be big enough to accommodate all of their wishes and wants at the same time — it’s hard to do homework when there is dancing going on upstairs — so the plans are still in flux.

But Kayla knows what’s important to her. “I have little brothers at home; it’s hard to study. And the library’s far from me. I’m not allowed to go walk down there.”

So, yes, homework.

Jeremiah looked at the tiny kitchen. “I want cooking classes. I want to learn to cook. One week, it could be cake. One week, it could be brownies. One week, it could be tacos.” Why does a young man need to know how to cook?

Demarion made a face. “When you get in the future, all you know is how to make junk food.”

Right on, men.

Small house, big needs. Some activities may have to take place in the church across the street, so everyone walked over, and that’s when Naomi bounced by.

Here’s what she told Mr. Eugene Jones: “Dancing makes us feel free, so we show some people we have talent.” That, right there, is what sprung the keys.

Did any of these kids know Ephraim?

Eliza-Beth said, “He was nice. He stayed to himself. He’d always say hi. He’s truly remembered.”

Joe Fiorito appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.jfiorito@thestar.ca

Ephram: [reading his essay] The more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm not sure who the first person was who said that. Probably Shakespeare. Or maybe Sting. But at the moment, it's the sentence that best explains my tragic flaw: my inability to change. I don't think I'm alone in this. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it's kind of everyone's flaw. Staying exactly the same for as long as possible, standing perfectly still... it feels safer somehow. And if you are suffering, at least the pain is familiar. Because if you took that leap of faith, went outside the box, did something unexpected... who knows what other pain might be out there, waiting for you. Chances are it could be even worse.

So you maintain the status quo. Choose the road already traveled and it doesn't seem that bad. Not as far as flaws go. You're not a drug addict. You're not killing anyone... except maybe yourself a little.

When we finally do change, I don't think it happens like an earthquake or an explosion, where all of a sudden we're like this different person. I think it's smaller than that. The kind of thing most people wouldn't even notice unless they looked at us really close. Which, thank God, they never do.

But you notice it. Inside you that change feels like a world of difference. And you hope this is it. This is the person you get to be forever... that you'll never have to change again.

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