Safe Haven.

I have had a few experiences recently that have caused me to consider seriously my own personal safety and quite honestly, that of others, especially women. Don’t worry, nothing dangerous, just some red flags, one of which was a dream.

I believe in reading very little into dreams as a whole. No symbols, no signs, no deep, life-guiding messages. But the subconscious is infinite so who knows what might bubble to the surface from time to time. In this particular nightmare I was about to be killed by a few members of a particular ethnic group that I will not name. As my current perspectives and future plans could one day put me on the outs, if you will, with said group, the dream was realistic enough. I could see, feel, and believe it all happening and it wasn’t pretty.

I awoke the moment before I was about to crash my car into a side of a building whilst trying to escape being shot. Upon waking it took me quite a few minutes to reorient myself with my apartment, my room, and my safety. After a quick trip to the bathroom I got back into bed, knowing intellectually that I was indeed free from danger. But my mind and my nerves weren’t yet completely acclimated. There was a click. Wtf. The heater coming on? The cock of a gun? Did I hear a scuffle in the entry?

I was tempted to get up and investigate but I knew it was unnecessary. My door, as well as that which accessed the building, were locked. There had been no shatter of glass. I was alone—in the good way. I reminded myself that I lived in a pretty safe neighborhood and I had nothing yet to fear. I fell back asleep in relative peace.

There is a gentleman who works at a store I frequent. I don’t know him other than to know the mere sight of him frightens me. He looks like a prison escapee with an ongoing drug problem and I thought to myself, how odd that he looks so like a criminal. It was the shape of his gaunt face, sunken eyes, and patchy hair. As I stood in line I wondered if the very sight of him made others uncomfortable and I questioned how it was that I, not knowing this man, came to the assumption that he is someone I might not like to meet alone at night. Did others feel the same way as he bagged their items?

As we’d have it, later that night as I was waiting for the bus, who should show up but the ex-con look-a-like. I was not uncomfortable yet as we were in a well-lit spot. I assured myself that I had no cause to believe this man unsavory. We boarded the bus with another young couple that I have seen at this stop before and we were on our way.

I get off at a stop where not many others live evidently so I usually disembark alone. But as I walked quickly down the hill from the bus just nearing 10:00 pm, I heard the sound of footsteps behind me. Odd. I thought back: when I had risen for my stop and made my way to the front of the bus, no one else had stood. Did someone get off at the last minute? The young couple? I’ve ridden the bus with those two before. They don’t live near me. I quickened my pace, letting my boots click hard on the pavement. (Confidence, ladies. Never let it waver. Also, wear boots that are comfortable and stable enough to walk quickly, yet sharp enough to do some damage, if you know what I mean. I recommend all women invest in a pair of Frye’s.)

For my own peace of mind, perhaps more than anything else, I reached into my handbag for my keys. Fumbling in the frigid cold, I laced the keys between my fingers, placing the sharpest and most angular (for my u-lock) between my index and middle finger. I rehearsed in my mind the action of an upper cut or a right hook. That u-lock key to the side of the head, primarily the ear, could not help but do some real damage.

I heard the sound of two young people and I gave a quick turn around. Not the couple from the bus, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I kept the keys at the ready. They soon turned off. No matter. Better to be safe than sorry. Next I approached the convenience store. Two men were approaching me. I gave a glance and kept walking noticing the black SUV idling to my left. In other environments, that’s not a good sign,  but in my neighborhood it was probably some rich guy stopping for a pack of cigs. Two blocks later and I arrived home.

I like my neighborhood and on the whole I feel quite safe here, as I reflected after waking up from the nearly fatal nightmare. As urban neighborhoods go, it is generally quiet and non-dramatic, though my father did alert me when I moved in that some young couple had been killed nearby some years ago.

I stand by this quote by Helen Keller: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

From these essentially uneventful events I did have to ask myself how ready I would be to face danger should it befall me. How ready are most women, or even men, that I know? I take my little safe haven for granted, but as Keller reminds me, there is nowhere that is truly safe. Rapes and murders don’t just happen in the inner city.

Christmas Day happened to feature some of my choicest flicks one of which was Out of Sight with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. It’s a pretty violent show but there are some steamy scenes that help to balance the scales between blood and sex. The point is, in the movie Jennifer Lopez plays an FBI agent and the girl handles her weapons like.a.boss. From the semi-automatic pistol to the collapsible tactical metal baton, no one messes with this woman and I can’t help admiring that. Am I a weapons hound? No. But I also don’t dig on the idea of being assaulted. Not sure I’m ready for the gun but I do like that baton.

So where is all the delight in this? I like the idea that life, no matter where you live it, is a daring adventure and that is how it’s supposed to be. I like and appreciate the relative safety in which I live and I am delighted by the idea of being more ready to handle life’s adventures in the coming year…perhaps with some advanced defense training and a tactical baton.

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