I went for a jog one evening last week and came to a small conclusion as I was passing a barking dog showing his excitement about the human jogging past his fenced-in yard. The sun was just beginning to hide behind the river horizon and the town was slowly falling asleep. There weren’t any people in sight and most of the streetlights were buzzing alive. The wind was chilly and picking up as winter air was finding its way across the river.
Although I had my headphones in, I was startled by this little friend probably as much as he was startled by me. He wasn’t a large dog but a very hyper one who really wanted me to know he was there and that I was crossing his territory.
And then I had a thought: how lucky am I that the only thing surprising me on my run in the dark is a dog. When I lived in bigger cities, I was taught to be inside my house before darkness was even whispering its arrival. This isn’t just because I am a woman, although I am sure that plays a part in the urgency to which I was guarded of the night, but because I lived somewhere where the possibility of dangerous things happening to people who jog the streets alone in the dark actually happened.
When I listen to the news and all of the horrible things happening in our country, I cannot help but feel smug. The dangers that lurk around the corners of neighborhoods with populations in the thousands don’t lurk where I live. This isn’t to say that it’s not possible for scary things to happen in small towns; Sandy Hook reminded us of that. But the idea that I can feel safe enough where I live to take a short jog to the river, catch the sunset, and jog home in the dark, makes me feel at peace.
But then I felt sad for those who do not have this same serenity. Why can’t every person in our country feel what I felt that evening? Why can’t every person feel safe in his or her neighborhoods? Why do we live in a world where we are scared of our own species more than we are of the dogs that come out of the shadows of bushes to greet joggers?
There are moments when my dreams of the bigger city outweigh the calm life I live in a small town, but that night wasn’t one of them. As I walked into my house, sweaty from the jog, I felt thankful. I made a mental note to remind myself of that night when I’m having a hard time fitting into this small world.
Then I opened the fridge to find that I was out of Almond Milk – the nearest grocery that sells it is a half an hour away. C’est la vie.
Featured image via WeHeartIt