Title: Lost Somewhere Between Safety and Danger
Type: Personal Essay
Date: December 2010
Published in the 2010 edition of Bricolage Magazine
Somewhere Between Safety and Danger
Every teenager is unaware, to some degree, of his or her own mortality. Every moment is so sweet and so new that it feels as if nothing could ever go wrong. Youth brings with it a sheer naïveté and bittersweet vitality. To have this view altered makes the heart grow away from the loveliness of childhood. The world creeps in like a fog, dragging its feet in dark earth, pulling away the soft caress of innocence. I was so unmoved, so unaware. I had a tongue of steel and a mind full of every flimsy notion of my sheltered life. My safety? It was far too great of a hassle to comprehend with any real concrete understanding. When the cold steel glove of reality finally pierced my veil of pseudo invincibility, I was left bleeding on a cold Chicago block, shaking and tear stained like a messy mosaic.
The night was cold and full of streetlights. I turned a corner and swaggered lightly down an alley to avoid the foot traffic of Michigan Avenue. I was fifteen, barley five feet three inches, and decked out in a chiffon cocktail dress, sporting a new fake ID. Heels too high and wobbling, I was on a jubilant search for my group of friends who had wandered down a separate street while I admired the glitz and glamour behind shop windows. His hands were on me before I had time to grasp a shallow breath of freezing air. He wore a hoodie the same color as the sky with a zipper like a stack of staples. His fingers were rough and his voice was deep and harsh like a rusty violin, “Give me your bag!” After a failed attempt to flee my tiny clutch was torn from my hands. I was shoved violently against a crumbling brick wall and fell three miles to the pavement. Like an ominous phantom, he disappeared into the haze of the city’s glow. I rubbed my neck and felt the clotted blood on my knees and shins. It rolled in big droplets like honey down a freckled path to the ground, where it pooled in icy, uneven circles.
I was no longer a little girl after that November night. It took only fifteen seconds to crack the foundations of my self-image as strong and independent. My safety was jeopardized by my own lack of humility. I am so small and so fragile, like the Waterford vases my mother kept on the top shelf of the oak cupboard in our dining room. Being so close to death brought a desire for worldliness into the foreground. I now am so incredibly careful and self-aware. Being faced with my mortality has shown me that I am only human and I should not take that gift for granted. I feel blessed to have been so fortunate as to not have something more dreadful happen in the encasing shadows of that quiet block. I will never again allow myself to be in a position of such avoidable danger.