I grew up in on suburban Long Island. We didn't have much in the way of crime.
With the exception of a few local eyebrow-raisers, life in my neighborhood was happy and uneventful. There was the family with domestic violence issues a few blocks over, the the mom regularly showing up to school functions with black eyes, causing much whispering; and of course there was the 'guy in the van' who was, I think, requisite to every 1980s suburban neighborhood, trolling around the perimeter of the elementary school with his blacked-out windows, offering kids rides and candy and opportunities to 'come see my new puppy', causing major white-people hysteria and a newfound need to lock front doors.
But other than that, my neighborhood was insular and cozy.
Occasionally as a kid I'd sneak out of my room and steal downstairs while my parents watched Hill Street Blues. I'd crouch behind my mom's chair and pull my knees up to my chest, covering my mouth to muffle my clever giggles, while I stealthily watched what I assumed to be complete fabrication of crime in some distant, big, bad city. Shit like that didn't really happen, right?
Perhaps you'd call me sheltered.
But Lily? she's a city kid, through and through.
She's been riding the subways since she was old enough to get stuffed in the baby sling and toted everywhere; she digs the grittiness of New York, you can just tell. She adores street musicians, public parks, the Nuts For Nuts guys.
When she first started to talk her favorite people to chat up were the grocery-cart homeless on Steinway Street, who absolutely loved her. "Look at those eyes!" they'd warble and lisp, "I love you, honey. I love you."
When we went to a festival in my hometown last summer, she tugged on my sleeve and asked me 'where all the brown people were'. She's just never known anything other than the diverse, urban landscape she's been reared in. And in some ways, I love that.
But I'm also starting to worry that city life might be having a hardening effect on my little'un.
For example. Last night, after a lovely dinner with my mom and dad, we pulled up to my building, and saw an ambulance and police car parked out front.
"Oh, I hope it's not Mr. So and So", I said, shaking my head.
My elderly neighbor has been suffering from dementia and as of late has been prone to wandering the lobby in his underpants and forgetting to turn off the stove.
But Lily had a different idea.
My five year old offered,
"Probably it's a homeless person, trapped under a car."
"Oh?" my mother said, raising her eyebrows.
Then, as if that weren't enough, Lil added,
"And probably, he's DEAD."
Yeah. That could also very well be it, Lil.
Maybe it's time to move?
4 days ago