Monday, January 05, 2009

Last night was very intense. And I'm not even including the fun visit to 'play' with Lilyanne.

We got home later than I had hoped... I think I made it to bed by 11:00, but I couldn't get to sleep. It's been a long time since my adolescent insomnia and so I react to any inability to sleep with great surprise and annoyance. I put on a DVD, hoping to numbe my mind. And wound up listening to a whole movie rather than being lulled to sleep. The last time I looked at the clock it was after 1:00am.

It was a real jolt to be awakened by Rick and Bridget charging into the bedroom at 3:00am. Flashing lights. Sirens. They thought they heard gunshots. I could hear shouting and several more reports. I've spent a fair amount of time at firing ranges with my father. It's been a while since I've squeezed a trigger, but I remember what gun shots sound like.

This was scary stuff. I had visions of one of the usual local conflicts turning violent. We joke a lot about the changing demographic of the apartments next door, but now our worst suspicions appeared to be coming true. Squad cars and fire engines continued to arrive. I heard one of the girls running to check that the front door was locked.

Then there were some small explosions. There are places in the world where this type of evening is SOP. And my protestations of outrage show what kind of naive bourgeois middle-aged middle-American woman I am. I know - really - that I don't deserve a good night's sleep free of sirens and fire more than anyone else. I'm just, well, surprised. I'm not writing from Kabul or Gaza City. This is Chicago's North Shore. Granted, Smith Ave. has become something of a pus-filled abcess of low-life and bizarre behaviors. Not exactly what we were expecting when we moved on to this street ten years ago.

Fran's sewing room has the only east-facing window, so we crowded in to gaze at the drama of blazing cars and building. The loud blasts had been the sound of exploding cars. (No wonder it sounded's only been twenty years since our car exploded. But that's a whole 'nother story.)

I am ashamed to say that at that point any fear turned to dread. Dread that charity would behoove me to invite in any residents fleeing the burning building. I don't really know many of the apartment people any more. And it's not that I'm afraid of strangers. It's that there has been so much 'sketchy' behavior emanating from the apartments that I would be very wary of opening our door to the dispossessed. This would have been a real test of charity versus prudence.

Once I knew there was nothing I needed to do, I headed back to bed. I pulled the covers over my head to block out the flashing lights. I had to drag myself out of bed this morning and drag through my day at work. My lack of emotional resilience is rather shocking. I can usually shake these chaotic events quickly. But I am still a little jumpy today. Jumpy enough to not be amused when I looked up at the TV and saw an exploding car as a comic device.

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