Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stori: the other side

When Debi first told me about this horrible thing that had happened in Ronni's school, I admit, I immediately became one of the people that made Debi feel like she had to play defense against. My first reaction was "Are you going to pull Ronni out of school?" I think Debi was a little surprised with my question. Of course not she said, why would she? In my way of thinking, there were a hundred reasons that she should of. I'm not sure any of them were valid, but they all were gut reaction. How did it happen? Why did it happen? Who did this? I was sure, it was a who, not an accident. Now I do hope I am completely wrong and it was just a horrible senseless accident, but it goes against my better judgement.

We can blame it on the media, or on the way I was brought up. We can even blame it on my total ignorance of how things really are, but I cannot help but picture cities as these dark, crowded, uncaring places that are totally filled with people out to get you. Bad things happen to people in cities. They are populated by killers, druggies, and people who work in small cubicles. I love to watch TV shows based on city life in the same way as I enjoy watching animal planet. It's hard for me to find anything to identify with.

I was raised on an acreage in northwest Colorado. The town only had about a 1000 people in it, and it was where my Mom was born and raised. My family lived about 12 miles outside of town. The road we lived on was a small two lane highway that led out of Colorado to Wyoming. Now our house sat way up top a hill surrounded by hundreds of acres of empty land. From a very young age, my Dad put such a fear in me of that road, that I would only dare to go down there if I was on a horse. Never would I have dreamt of riding my bike alone on that small highway. It was such an empty place that hours could go by without a car driving by at all. Now my Dad always said that I was safer on a horse because I could escape pretty easy across country. He always told me that someone was going to snatch me up and drive right out of the state and they would never find me. I had red hair you know....for some reason that was supposed to put me at higher risk for kidnap? So I think that is where it all started, the deep mistrust of other people outside my family. Every car coming up behind you was a potential murderer/kidnapper/bad guy. My father was a Sheriff's Deputy before I was born and I think when you work a career surrounded by criminals, you see bogeymen behind every bush. Assume the worst, prepare yourself for all. After we moved from Meeker after the oil shale bust, we moved to the front range to Canon City. My Dad got a job with the prison system in Canon that at the time I think had 13 prisons in the area. This did not improve my Dad's outlook on the world, nor lessen his fear for his daughter. Canon was a larger town than Meeker, but still not a city by any means. To me, it was huge! It had two grocery stores and restaurants, and even a McDonald's! We still lived outside of town, still had our farm animals. I was never led to believe that I was in too much danger when I was in the town of Meeker, we knew everyone, literally. Nor was it too dangerous in Canon, it was still a small town. People talk too much in small towns, a person can't get away with too much. Mess up enough and eventually you will be found out. If I was smart, I would stay safe. That was the mantra I grew up with, Stay Together. Be Careful. Don't Wander Off! I had never lived with a locked door, or a closed curtain. I don't think we even had keys for our doors.

Then I moved to Texas. I lived in an apartment building. I was scared to death. We lived in a really poor part of town and the city we lived in had over 100,000 people in it. I heard gunshots, but it wasn't from pheasant hunting. Every time a car drove by I ran to the window to see who was coming to my house. My entire life I lived with the knowledge that if you heard a car, someone was in your driveway. For the first time I had curtains on my windows, I tried not to, but people would walk by AND LOOK IN. Our car was broke into and someone stole the quarters out of the console. The majority of people were black. There was one partial black family in Meeker, we were actually related. And only a small handful of blacks in Canon. This racial diversity was something so foreign to me, it was hard to deal with. I had no racist feelings, just total ignorance. There was man named "K' that lived in the apartment above me. He would try to trade cigarettes for opened packages of food he had. Like if I gave him 2 cigarettes he would give me a half a can of Nestle Quik chocolate milk powder. Living there confirmed everything that my Dad had unknowingly taught me growing up about cities and city people. I had a customer jump over the counter of a convenience store I was working in one night and punch me in the face because I was enforcing the prepay for gas after dark rule.

After my family moved to Alaska, it was much better. People were too busy trying not to get themselves killed from the land to bother each other too much. When I lived in Grand Junction for a short time, I had a small break down on the freeway. No one stopped. Not one person stopped to help me. When I slid off the road in North Pole on the way to work several years ago, my car had barely slid to a stop before 3 vehicles had pulled over to help me. Yet, as I send my daughter off every day to go to the 5Th grade, I'm scared. She goes to school on the Air Force Base since that is the closest school to us. It is filled with people that had come from cities and were only forced to live this type of lifestyle. They bring with them their city ideas. Once again, we live way outside of town. I pass on to her the gift of social fear. Be Careful! Don't Talk To Anyone! Just because someone is in the military does not mean they are not psychotic! While other kids in her class go to the youth center, I won't allow it. The only reason those kids go is because they have no parents at home waiting for them. She asks if she can have a sleepover at a friend's house. No, we don't know those people. I can't be sure they would keep her safe. She is teased by kids in her class because she lives on a farm. They say she stinks and we must be poor because we have pigs and milk cows. What kind of people are these?

Even as an adult, the fear of the city and the people that live there still exists. My husband and I were discussing a possible trip for me to go to visit and meet Debi in Chicago a while back. His greatest issue was my safety. Will she be able to keep me safe? Would I find myself the victim of one the million crimes that exist in those places? Bad things happen in the city. There is not safety in numbers.

Now that this short explanation has turned into a long novel. I hope it might explain a small bit why my first question to Debi was if she was going to take Ronni out of school. It was the most logical step to me. See,"I told ya", my psyche said, people with get you in the city, even kids in school are not safe. If this horrible thing happened to that 10 year old boy, obviously Ronni is at danger. I know this does not make sense to most. Now I only wonder what kind of fears a city person would have walking in my world?

No comments:

Post a Comment