There was a shooting last night at 2:09am, one block from our condo, where Phil and I slept soundly. It was at an intersection where a new high end Italian restaurant and high end wine bar just opened, half a block from a pub, a Euro coffee shop, and a high end Italian dry goods shop. A good sausage and beer restaurant is about to go into that intersection. And a very popular “urban” club is there. Ask me which one brings the most trouble.
At this same intersection on Friday mornings, a vibrant Farmer’s market is in full force each week. At right about that spot, a musician sets up weekly to play music for the shoppers, who are a broad mix of local livers, local workers, and a large Chinese contingent buying Asian greens and sometimes live fish or chickens.
On first Fridays, hipsters flock to this area to wander the boutique shops and eat from local food carts. Chrysler has filmed their holiday car commercials in this very intersection for the past two years.
It’s odd, having moved from a super duper safe town where we never locked our house (I’ve never had a house key for my parents’ house) to Oakland. I tell myself that our neighborhood is safe, but Phil often joins me at 10:30ish to walk Stella. I never bring a purse outside with me, and always take off my engagement ring if I will be outside after dark.
We tell ourselves that by taking these precautions, the neighborhood is safe enough. Don’t walk at night on your cell phone. Give up your valuables if someone demands them. We had a rash of muggings last year, but they’ve slowed down. My neighbor was attacked at 4pm on a Saturday last year, by a 14 y/o on a raping rampage (he only broke her nose).
We hear these terrible things, yet continue to insist that this is a “nice” neighborhood. We have trees and Victorian brick buildings. The Oakland Marathon runs past our building because this is such a beautiful area. And last night a man was shot (non-fatal) while resisting three men who wanted to mug him.
The only way to accept these highly disparate realities for the neighborhood, is to think that there is the reality during the day, and during busy nights, and a very different reality when the streets clear and everyone goes to bed. You take precautions, because this area really is a wonderful, vibrant neighborhood with fun traditions and opportunities to walk instead of drive. But it still surprises me to juxtapose where I’m from against where I am now, and to know that even with this alternate reality, I still would rather live here than there.
I wonder how that will change in a few years when we become parents.