Monday, November 11, 2013

inner city interlude

I drove out to the usual study spot for my cardamom-laced coffee and fix of art-schoolers and Saudis mingling in the old Italian neighborhood. I'm working on a paper and chilling out massively, booking tickets for a trip in December but then start getting text messages Saturday night from the neighbors asking if I'm okay because someone got shot in front of my house.

well. I'm okay.

The phone calls and messages keep coming, that the street is blocked off, that someone ran up my driveway, that someone got taken away in a stretcher, that the police are all over my yard. Meanwhile, studying is not going to happen, the coffeeshop's closing in ten minutes, I'm giving a friend old lady relationship advice, and I'm glad at least I'm prepared for the chaos that's going to be there when I get home.

The street is still blocked off, there is crime scene tape in my front yard, so many cop cars, one tells me that the guy who got shot is dead, that the shooter ran off, that I can't go in my back yard because there's evidence back there so I go through the front and can't do anything but pace around because this is all just too weird, and then a friend getting off work who has no idea calls me and I tell her what's going on and say I'll drive out to see her, because I've had too much coffee and I'm not going to sleep with all this going on. The irony of driving through the sketchiest parts of the east side to see her because I don't want to be around where the crack deal went bad happened in my own yard is not lost on me. 

So evidently this is how I cope with homicides in front of my house, I eat pancakes and get morbid and then talk about other things because it takes me a few days to process things. When I come home, everyone's gone, it's like nothing ever happened. I'm still a little shellshocked and numb but strangely peaceful for reasons I can't explain other than invoking spiritual things. The songs I sing on Sunday morning beating the heck out of my guitar feel more meaningful, it's grace that's brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home, this my glad commemoration that til now I've safely come... melt the clouds of sin and sadness drive the dark of doubt away... 

I go to the beach afterwards with my camera, to gather my thoughts and take pictures of blowing sand and autumn leaves and the debris that washes up on shore, driftwood and bones and shells. There's no one out but me and the windsurfers and I'm sure I look a little strange wandering around by myself taking pictures of dead things with homie's keffiyeh scarf wrapped around my face to keep out the blowing sand and the sunglasses I only use while driving. But I feel like being anonymous especially when I come home and am standing on my porch talking to the neighbor across the street and there are news crews on my tree lawn.

Since neither of us were home, we have nothing to say to them which is a relief and I go over to my parents' house for a family function where I refrain from spouting off political opinions and strangely enough, my folks aren't nearly as freaked out by this as I thought they would be. It wasn't like things didn't happen in our neighborhood either, but this is a whole other thing.

And no, I have no plans to move, no plans to buy a gun or a security system or a dog or whatever. I don't lose sleep over this. I grieve the loss of life and wish it didn't feel so necessary to have a guy friend walk me home from the bar at the end of the night. But I have neighbors who care about me, friends who offer me places to crash and listen to me process all this out. I may be vulnerable but I feel strong, because I've realized even more now that I'm not alone. 


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