Photo by jet7black
I worry about my daughter's comings and goings late at night in her part of town; worry about the street she has to walk down being too lonely after dark; worry about who's around watching out for her safe passage. I'm glad she lives with her boyfriend, glad there's someone who knows when she arrives home each night. But then, in the midst of these thoughts, I stop and remember myself at her age, living alone on a quiet street in the city, coming home near midnight most evenings, from work or revelries, with no one about on my block. The door to the lobby of my building was recessed from the sidewalk. Anyone could have been lurking there as I turned the corner. The building's resident drunk was always leaning unsteadily against a column inside in the cavernous, green-checked linoleum-floored lobby. Liquor bottle in hand, Frank kept watch day and night in a food-stained wifebeater and saggy green khakis, slurring his hellos. It actually made me feel safe to see him standing like a sentry a few feet away from the creaky elevator. On my floor, many blind alcoves dipped off from the long, poorly lighted hallway. Tucked inside each alcove were the front doors of two apartments, their doorknobs at right angles and almost touching. And here's the crazy part, the detail my parents never knew, and one that I was too young and thoughtless to have a care about: My immediate neighbor was a drug dealer. Sketchy looking people came and went from his apartment at all hours, and coming and going from my own door, I would simply nod politely and keep moving. Looking back now, it seems ridiculous that I didn't feel any hint of jeopardy. I'm trying to remember that this sense of invulnerability is the gift of the young, and why should I punch holes in the cloak of security it confers? Besides, my girl is a native New Yorker. She grew up in this teeming city. Her spidey sense is keen.