So I’m out walking the dog last night when all of sudden four police cars come booming down the road, surround the guardhouse of the gated community I’m walking past and ten guys with guns hop out to go talk to the guard. At the same time a fire truck — appearing for all the world to have come directly from a casting call for a Lassie remake — appears up the road and two guys start wrassling with the hose. I start hustling the dog back the other way (tiny, fish-scented treats held aloft of course — my dog may have an active nose but it is not for danger) and other cars, sensing that all is not well practically jettison their transmissions in their quest to be elsewhere. Then, before I’ve even got the be-tailed halfway down the block all the men and all their guns pile back into all their cars and speed off into the night. The firemen abandon their quest to liberate their hose and head the same direction, tailpipe smoking. It took two minutes, I doubt I was in any real danger, but it was a good reminder: stay aware, don’t forget where you are, and always bring fish treats.
Many days I have to remind myself where I am — it just bears so little resemblance to the place I imagined when all I had to go on where news stories and gory New York Times photo essays. There are no burning cars in the street, we aren’t sleeping in our bathtubs with flak jackets over our heads, Leonardo DiCaprio is not lurking in the background taking notes for his next ripped-from-the-headlines major motion picture about a scoundrel narco-trafficker with a heart of gold who falls for a crusading photojournalist with a weakness for lovable immorality and Ayn Rand-ian speechifying about the true nature of evil (Lord, I hated Blood Diamond). And yet. And yet, 47 people were killed over the weekend, the police are shot at every day, and the local newspaper runs weekly stories about the top spots for carjackings.
It’s the epitome of cool it would seem to carry on amidst danger and chaos as though you were merely navigating a particularly lively night club but what do you do when, apart from an ill-timed dog walk, the danger seems mostly hypothetical to you, but is in fact very real. To carry on normally seems callous, to live in fear seems excessive. I guess you just keep keeping on — but with a watchful eye for Mr. DiCaprio sneaking about with his notepad.