Almost everyone I know from South Carolina has relatives up north. Many were a part of The Great Migration of more than 6 million African Americans from the South between 1915-1970. As a matter of fact, all of my dad's siblings and his mother moved to NY/NJ while my immediate family stayed in South Carolina. My grandfather had died tragically in a truck accident which may have precipitated the move up north for the others. Why my dad didn't leave with the rest of the family is unknown at least for now.
At any rate, the separation of the family created the perfect opportunity for travel and exploration as I was growing up. I looked forward to the long car ride from South Carolina through North Carolina, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania to New Jersey. It was amazing to see all of the cities along I-95 but it was quite interesting to see fields of grazing cattle so near the city. A lot of the area looked just like the countryside where we lived in South Carolina. But don't tell my cousins that. I did notice, even as a kid, that after a few days in the city there was a strong pull to be in nature. Luckily there was a huge park just down the street from my grandma's house. Weequahic Park (wee-kwah-ic) has 311 acres with a lake and lots of green space, basketball courts, trails, and a playground.
When my brother and I would go to visit my grandmother for the entire summer, we spent most of our time at this park. We would ride our skateboards down to the park and just hang out all day exploring the park with our city cousins and friends. I am grateful for my time in the city because of the exposure to a different way of life including opportunities that lie in big cities but I will always have a need to connect with nature even if it is a park nestle between tall buildings.