I have a vivid memory from about age 8 of walking through the streets of Boston with my Step-dad. I remember being terrified as I looked at the big buildings, the fast taxis, and observed the masses of people walking the streets. People live here?! I wondered, knowing that any second something terrible was about to happen. It didn’t. Still, I wasn’t too keen on cities until years later when I lived near San Francisco.
Flash forward to today.
I walk comfortably through the streets of my city, no longer afraid. I am aware but not fearful. I feel safe.
Sometimes my life these days is so much that of a city dweller that I astound myself. I shop for food at an overpriced, inner city market. We get takeout too many nights of the week. We park our cars on Friday and don’t move them until we leave for work on Monday. We pay extra for a parking spot in a lot 3.5 blocks from home. We run into friends at the dog park and go out to wine bars on weeknights. Our buzzer doesn’t work so we are constantly running up and down our 2 flights of stairs to greet the delivery guy. Our lock on our door is one of those city kind of locks. Sometimes it makes me feel like SJP from Sex and the City.
I’m getting used to my life here. It feels like home.
So when a retired Philly cop recently told me “you need a gun if you live in Philly”, I was completely taken back. No! I thought. I’ve worked hard to feel like I’m a part of this community. I’ve quelled my fears and come to a place of feeling safe. Don’t put that fear back in my mind!
I insisted to him that I don’t feel like I need a gun and that I personally never intend to be a gun owner (note: this is not a gun control discussion). Guns just aren’t for me. He looked me dead in the face and told me that I’m naive.
This banter went back and forth for a few minutes (it was friendly, I swear). He asked me “What about home invasion or burglary?”. I responded with “Frankly, there are way better people on my street to rob. If I was going to pick someone to rob in our neighborhood, I wouldn’t pick us, the itty bitty 3rd floor walk up. That just makes no sense.”
I realize that the whole “put yourself in the mind of a robber” strategy might not be the best and it’s not one I’m particularly proud of but seriously, you’d have to be dumb to break in to the building with 5 teeny apartments full of med students (and us) vs. the house next door where they own the whole house.
Basically, this would be very very true on our front steps.
You can find it here.
With my “better people to rob” comment, he backtracked a bit, asking about my neighborhood. He later shared with me that he thought my neighborhood is actually fine and that “you’re right, you probably don’t need a gun there.” I know. It was a strange conversation and I was certainly a bit shaken by it. Am I naive to feel safe here? I still wonder. Should I feel unsafe? What does it mean that I just don’t?
Like I said, it does feel like home. I’m grateful for that.