Internal Peace, and Roasted Tomatoes

When I was in high school, one of the girls on my sister’s tennis team and her family were murdered in their home a few days before Christmas. They were tied up and shot, doused with gasoline and set on fire by an ex-convict.

Because the crime was random, I struggled to make sense of it. It left me with a feeling that at any time, any one of us could be a victim, a fear that grew more pronounced when I moved to New York City for graduate school. There I knew students mugged while walking to school. My body, already on high alert, was triggered by the sights and sounds of disarray, like the stench of urine on the subways and graffiti on its walls.

Since moving to Minnesota, I’ve felt at peace. Here, when I gaze out my window, I see green grass and trimmed trees. Neighbors pop in on one another, and often we leave our doors unlocked. But now, with a Level 2 sex offender moving into our neighborhood, I realize you can’t control your environment; you can only control who you are in it. And I haven’t found internal peace yet. Because there is one question that still weighs on me: Why?

Do you feel safe where you are?

Tonight we grilled steak for dinner and made tomato kabobs:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vineagar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

Mix together ingredients and marinate cherry tomatoes for at least 30 minutes. Place tomatoes on skewers, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 4-6 minutes.

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16. April 2010 by Jennifer Jeanne Patterson
Categories: Food, Parenting | Tags: , , , , | 9 comments

Comments (9)

  1. In my hood (Baltimore city) I am constantly “on”. I’m always aware of my surroundings, people walking by, cars that are out of place. My kids have found needles and bags of crack on our streets. We know who the local pimps are. We moved here by choice. I lived in the picture perfect neighborhood, with lots of families, the best schools, etc…but, after being there a few years, we began to hear stories of went on behind closed doors. Now, I live in a place where it’s all out in the open. Which is better? I’m not sure. It’s the world we live in.
    I do have peace. I’m where I’m supposed to be. I hope you find your peace.

  2. Fear to me is a sense that I have no control over anything. But that’s reality, regardless of whether it’s inherent or just perceived. We have only the ability to control what happens in our hearts and minds, and trust that the world will right itself when needed. I can’t live a fear-based existence. I would never set foot outside my house if I did. But often I am terrified of outcomes beyond my control and I just have to rely on faith for the peace I need. So far, that’s worked out pretty well.

  3. …is it beginning to make sense now that you are a mom…is the question in your mind more clear as to why I as your mom was always asking…where to?…who with?…when you plan to return?…and why are you choosing to go?…now you know it is because of the love I have for you…

  4. Even in places you think are safe might not be. For all you know, that sex offender might be working at a business that you patronize on a regular basis, or in the case of what you described in your blog post, might be cleaning the bowling center that you spent most of your adolescence in. It’s sobering thinking about all the early mornings I would be there for 10 for 15 minutes waiting for a van while he cleaned the place with his girlfriend.

  5. I think Chris makes a good point. Is it better to perceive safety even if your perception is wrong or to constantly be on high-alert? In one instance you might feel more peace, but not be any safer in actuality. For me, I feel safe because we have worked hard to build a trusted community around us. Outside of that community I am on alert constantly. I suppose, as with most things in life, it is about balance. Honing your senses enough to pick up on obvious issues, but relax enough to realize there are many things orbiting around our families that are completely out of our control.

  6. I feel safe overall – but anxious a lot. Does that even make sense or is it a contradiction of sorts? I have certain places I feel it’s ok to let my guard down & others, even if it’s silly (to my husband usually) I still can’t help it…
    Better to be safe than sorry is my motto -

  7. Thank you all for your great insight! I really appreciate it.

  8. This is really tough, Jennifer. Not a situation I like having to deal with. We usually just talk about things as they come up with the kids. It’s a tough line to draw with them talking to strangers. Like if a nice lady says hi to them in the grocery store. That’s okay. But if it’s a bearded man, questionable. I’m never sure. But we have tried to teach the boys to never open the door to someone they don’t know and never go with someone, etc. We feel pretty safe here, but since we’re moving soon, we’ll have to decide how that feels. Sigh. Too much for my brain right now. But great topic, sorry you have to deal with it.
    Your kids are so cute, you take great photos.

  9. Pingback: Unplanned Cooking » Lovin’ My Bubble, Not our New Neighbor

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