A couple thoughts still linger with me, tensions that have always been a part of my life in this neighborhood but thrown into greater relief after this experience.
1. Teenagers are scary kids. I have always understood that teenagers are people that most adults find a little frightening, especially when they are in groups. I've never wanted to feel that way about a group of people, and I think I have mostly focused on the kid part - they're just kids. Which is true. However, kids do dumb things (like, oh, say shooting a gun at public park at 4 in the afternoon) when given the chance. Which can be pretty scary. One of my neighbors and I were discussing this and she told me that she thinks of teenagers as being like someone who has never driven a car being given a Ferrari. "Great equipment, no idea how to use it." She said. It's the decision making skills that are scary - and around here there is more than one teenager whose life gives him(or her) no power outside of guns and violence, and no tempering parental presence to help bridge the gap between ability to act and the ability to decide. So. Maybe it's okay to temper my compassion with a little bit of wariness when it comes to the teens.
2. I still love my neighborhood, but it's complicated. (and that's okay) I am used to loving things completely and unreservedly. One of the reasons I love my neighborhood is that it makes me think. There are lots of reasons - racial and economic diversity, lots of parks, my neighbors, proximity to downtown and my work and Andrew's work, etc. It gets in the 90th percentile for walkability scores. And it makes me think. Which is related mostly to the racial diversity part. For the past seven years I have been working on and questioning my internal danger response to certain situations - a group of black teenage boys being loud, hanging out for example. If I feel uncomfortable I question that response and attempt to get curious about it. There aren't clear lines, of course. And this experience reminded me that sometimes it's okay to see danger. Sometimes it's real. So I am thinking on that, working on it.
We have talked about going to our park again, but haven't actually done it yet. We will eventually. The weather is gradually, slowly, sometimes imperceptibly getting better and we have had some great sunny days. I have two more papers to write before the end of the quarter and three more Sundays at St. Paul's before I am done working there. Things are changing, but the sun is coming out. And we're doing fine.