In Her Shell
Monday, January 21, 2008
There is a rumor going around that someone was mugged on our corner a few nights ago. By "going around," I mean that our downstairs neighbor told our across-the-hall neighbor, who told us. I am so pissed off.

At first I was surprised; we live in a quiet immigrant neighborhood. Dads, uncles and older brothers walk down to gather by the train station in the morning, waiting for work in the form of a pickup truck with a flatbed big enough for all of them. Moms and sisters walk to the bus in uniforms; little kids walk home after school with oversize Dora backpacks and chase each other around, shouting "Hola" at me from porches. It's quiet at this time of year, but in summer there is always someone out on the street, blasting salsa music from the car that's being worked on in the driveway, hanging out, playing cards. When I first moved here from suburban stroller land, where they roll up the sidewalks at 7:00, I felt assaulted by the noise and life surounding me at all hours. Then I came to remember how safe it is to have the eyes of the neighbors always on the neighborhood.

A robbery on our corner? A natural homebody, I've felt a little nervous on my walk from car to house in every place I've ever lived, from woods to city. I'm forever telling myself I need to lift more weights, take a self-defense course so I won't feel so vulnerable all the time. But now to think I might have a reason to be afraid, steps from my door... it has left a stone in my stomach that won't quite go away.

Even though I know this is a rumor, even though I can rationalize and say it may have been an isolated incident, that I've lived in "dangerous" places before, even though I can say a mugging isn't the worst street crime I could encounter, I'm still parking right in front of the door on our one-way street, instead of around the corner where the car can face the start of my commute. I'm still looking both ways, as if the sidewalk were a busy thoroughfare I have to cross.

I'm in mourning for our corner. It's become less ours. I've lost it, a little.
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