The important thing is that nobody got hurt.
That's the important thing. Right?
No injuries, no fatalities and nothing was taken that can't be replaced.
Well, almost nothing.
One early morning about a week ago, while I allowed myself an extra hour to sleep off some jet lag, and my husband got ready for work, a neighbor knocked on our door. He'd noticed a teenage girl wearing ripped pants and a backpack slip out of our back alley.
Now there's only one way into the alley, and he didn't see her enter. He asked her some questions but he wasn't comfortable with the answers, so he knocked on a few doors to see if everything was alright.
After a quick look around, my husband found that things were missing. Cameras were gone. So was a brand new not-yet-paid-for iPad, an iPhone, and, worst of all, a not-backed-up-in-a-long-time laptop. Yes, I know, that last part makes me a little bit stupid. Let me be a lesson to you all.
Also making me feel stupid - that fact that she got into the house through an open window - a window I'm actually kind of neurotic about locking-- but forgot about that one night. Reference the aforementioned jetlag.
The AOA Downtown office -- otherwise known as my house -- is in the Center Square/Washington Park neighborhood. My husband and I love living here. We both spent the earliest years of our childhoods in and around big cities and we're always telling family and friends how great our neighborhood is. There's a Living Walls mural outside my door. We can walk to The Wine Bar and Crisan and the park and The Egg. Our neighbors are awesome. They own the neighborhood businesses. They're kind and creative and fun. They watch out for each other, clean up the street, plant flowers, and shovel each other's cars out of snowbanks.
But some of my friends who aren't as comfortable in cities ask, "Is it safe?" And when they ask, I often get the sense they've formed their own answer already.
It's been over a week since the incident, and I haven't told many friends or family members what happened. I think it's partly because I don't want to worry them. I know they're genuinely concerned about us. It's also partly because I don't want to confirm their suspicions about my neighborhood. Most would never voice an "I told you so " -- still, I hate being able to give them a reason. And, here's the part it's hard to admit: For a moment or two, I started to think they may be right -- maybe I should go someplace safer.
We live in a great place with beautiful architecture and a gorgeous park, but anytime we hear about a mugging or a shooting or a break-in nearby it's unnerving. It's not often, but it's more often than in Wilton, or Round Lake, or Guilderland. And when it happens to you or someone you know, the reality of an underworld in your world becomes real. Also, a house feels weird when someone uninvited comes in without you knowing it.
What surprised me about my reaction to the whole thing was this: I was less frightened and more angry. Yes, we left the window open, but an open window is not an invitiation for someone to come take what we've worked so hard for. And who wants to live in a place where that is OK?
When I was 11, my parents moved their six kids from Brooklyn to Wilton, where
they never locked the door. I'm not sure you can do that anymore -- even in Wilton. Safety was something I took for granted. Of course ,there were eight Darcys living in that house, so God help any thief that would try to break in. I love my parents, and I appreciate the fact that they moved us there, in part, because they wanted us to grow up in a safe place -- but I've wanted to get back to a city ever since.
My neighborhood just seems to fit me. I like being a part of a living, breathing, busy place where people live and work and go for fun. I like that I can walk and take the bus to concerts or dinner or meetings. Being in walking distance of great pastry, and fantastic food and wine are bonus points. But mostly I like the people who live here. They're different, they're interesting, and most are interested in creating a great community. They're good neighbors. Neighbors were looking out for us and came by to warn us in the first place. Others stopped by to see how we were or say how sorry they are about what happened. One even took photos at the Pride Parade for AOA, since I no longer had a camera.
So, no, I'm not going anywhere.
But I'm wiser now. I won't make the mistake of leaving the window open again. Insurance will replace the electronics and I'll remember to bring the new stuff upstairs at night and back up the computer when I get home. I'll double check latches I'm sure I've already locked before going to bed. I'll be a little more alert. Maybe even a little more suspicious.
I'm wiser. But I'm a little sadder, too.
I've lost a little something that I can't quite find the right name for. Security? Comfort? Naiveté? I can't figure out what to call it, but I know how it feels. It feels like a little something that was stolen, that I'll never get back.
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