A couple of weeks ago, I met a friend for dinner at Senart’s Oyster Bar in Eastern Market. It was fab-u-lous. The oysters, the mussels, the trout special. All of it. The grapefruit crush was a winner too. When we were done eating, we stopped at the metro station so he could hop on and head back to Virginia. “Oh no… I can’t let you walk home by yourself,” he insisted. I told him that was ridiculous, that Eastern Market is completely safe, that I wouldn’t live here if I couldn’t walk home from dinner by myself. “I walk with my kids in this area all the time!”
Still, he insisted. When we arrived, I thanked him and said “see… it’s completely fine around here!” And I generally live with that mentality; if I didn’t, I’d go crazy worrying about the possibilities. If I let my mind run wild, I might come up with something like this:
My husband doesn’t come home. I call the police to report him missing. The next day, police find him beaten unconscious on someone’s front porch. He’s rushed to emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage. I have to send my kids to a friends house while I wait, helpless in the hospital.
But that isn’t something that I dreamed. Instead, it really happened to a family in Eastern Market this weekend. It’s horrifying to think that this could occur at all, but when it happens half a mile from home, it gives you a sick feeling that’s hard to shake.
Was he doing all of the things that I do when I’m alone at night: walking with a purpose, keeping one hand on the phone ready to call 9-1-1, taking off my headphones to pay closer attention to my surroundings? How long was he lying on the ground before somebody found him? There are so many good people who live on the Hill– were there witnesses? I’m sure he screamed. Did anybody hear him?
I ache for this man’s wife and young son. And I think about my own family, vulnerable to circumstances like these, beyond anyone’s control. I remind myself that crime happens in every community. And when you look at District crime statistics, the key numbers have been going down for years. But 108 homicides last year doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
People often ask why we don’t move to the burbs. I never want to make a decision like that out of fear. There are so many wonderful aspects of life in our neighborhood; but unfortunately, you can’t ignore the bad. We’ve been talking about a dog for a while. Maybe now’s the time to get one? In the meantime, I’m grounded. Dave says I’m not allowed to wander the neighborhood by myself at night, and I can’t say I blame him. Maybe next time my dad offers me a handgun I should take him up on it? Just considering my options…