Sometimes, change comes all at once. A significant event occurs and BAM! we are changed forever. Most of the time, though, change is gradually. Small life experiences are a drip, drip, drip that becomes a steady stream carving us out. Either way, it can be quite a shock to discover how much we have changed.
On Friday evening, I discovered that such a change has occurred in me. When we moved to the city ten years ago, I was afraid of everything. I was afraid to go for a walk around the block in the middle of the day. I was afraid to drive down certain streets. I was afraid to shop in certain stores. I was committed to urban living, but I was afraid. Over the past ten years, city life – the good and the bad – has changed me. Rocks have broken our windows. I have stood hand-in-hand with relatives of homicide victims. I have been told by police officers holding rifles to get back into my house. I have sat on my porch and befriended neighbors who are very different from me. The result of all of this is that I am no longer afraid. Or, at least, I have learned not to let my fear stop me from doing the things I want to do. I have learned not to stay locked inside my house while urban life happens around me.
Friday evening, Ben was invited to a wonderful outdoor event a few blocks away. A group of neighbors host an ice cream and movie night on the park-like median on their street. He went last year and loved it and was really looking forward to participating again. John and I drove him over. Between our house and the party, we encountered a huge situation. About two blocks from our house, there were police cars everywhere and we could see an area roped off with yellow police tape. We continued on past the incident, a couple more blocks to the outdoor party. We dropped Ben off, told him to give us a call when the movie was over and headed back home. We drove back past the police action. It seemed like there were about 20 police cars spread over two or three blocks. People were standing around everywhere. John and I discussed what might have happened and decided that there must have been a shooting.
Later that night, the reality of the situation struck me. I suddenly realized that we had dropped Ben off, without hesitation, two blocks from a huge police situation. I was never afraid for a minute that something would happen to him or to any of us. I realized suddenly how much I have changed over the last ten years. Ten years ago, if we had seen three police cars near the party, I would have wanted to turn around, go home and lock all the doors. Now, twenty police cars did not affect me. I am comfortable living here. I am not afraid. The change was so gradual that I barely noticed it until Friday’s situation made it clear how much great the change is. I’m glad to recognize the change and growth in myself.