Safe as Houses

Last night I locked my front door.

If you’ve read this blog for a minute, you know that I don’t lock my door. I do lock the big iron gate in front of my door, but not the door itself. This is part laziness, part habit from when the lock wasn’t working properly, part foolish, Pollyanna-ish insistence that I don’t need to lock it.

But then sometimes I do.

A few years ago I was reading Francisco Goldman’s The Art of Political Murder, and it was killing me. I was terrified all the time, most especially so when I entered my house at night because that was when Bishop Gerardi was murdered. I wrote about my fear here, and Fox — my intelligent and often-snarky younger sister — responded that I might feel safer in my home if I locked my front door.

(Yes, my family — as may be true for some of you reading this — are horrified by my crazy, not-door-locking behavior.)

Fox was right. I locked my door, and I immediately felt safer in my house, slept more easily. When I recovered from reading Goldman’s book, I stopped locking my door.

Since then, door-locking has been the barometer of my feeling of security and comfort.

So let’s start again: last night I locked my front door.

There could be any number of reasons for that. I’ve been binge-listening to “Serial,” and have definitely felt whispers of fear running along my spine. I hadn’t thought it was too serious, but I could be wrong. So it could be Adnan Sayed … but maybe it’s something more.

I am feeling decidedly exposed and vulnerable, which makes sense, given how public I’ve been in the expression of my anger and sadness and frustration. Is that scary? I guess it is scary. Is it lock-the-door scary? I wouldn’t have thought so, but it could be.

There were a few moments last night — as I fixed dinner, as I twisted my hair — when I could feel unease rising in my chest, that I had to remind myself that I had locked the door, when the knowledge of the locked door dissolved the fear and enabled me to carry on calmly with my night.

And if this fear is about my feeling exposed and vulnerable, that actually seems like a good thing. Opening myself like this has been very powerful for me, has helped me see that I can be angry — ragingly angry — and the world doesn’t crumble, no mountains fall into the sea.

Of course, it could also be just plain, straight-up #AliveWhileBlack fear. I’ve been so focused lately on all the times and all the ways I have felt unsafe on the street. I’ve been thinking about Aiyanna Stanley Jones who should have been perfectly safe — asleep in her home being a regular seven-year-old child — and yet wasn’t safe. And maybe weeks and weeks of acknowledging and giving voice to this painful truth that I don’t control is finally manifesting, channeling through my fingers, turning that cylinder, sliding that bolt.

I’m curious to see what will happen tonight. Sometimes, just acknowledging my fear is enough to dispel it, enough to let me return to my unlocked life. And if the fear persists, it makes me more glad than usual that I’ll be heading home for Christmas. In that house full of family and dogs — to say nothing of locked doors and an activated alarm system — I will sleep soundly every night.

But whether in my family’s home or in my home, I know that — fear or no fear — I’m going to keep writing, keep posting.

8 thoughts on “Safe as Houses

  1. Stacie!! I came here just as I was finishing my own post on changes and vulnerability. I love this post (and I am in the “WHAAAAAAT you don’t lock your door?!” camp, but no judgment!). Here’s to moving forward and seeing what we can make. ❤


    1. You’re definitely not alone in that camp, my friend! I think I am the only one over here in the “I don’t need to lock my door,” camp! And yes, here’s to moving forward!


  2. Stacie I feel you. I can’t put my finger on it either, but there seems to be a bit of a not-quite-subliminal state of unease, for lack of a better word, going around these days. May the joy of the being around family seep into your psyche and unlock all you need. And yes, you keep on writing.


    1. Thanks, Rai. Being with my family did the trick as far as my door … but there’s still that unsettledness, you know? I’ve started and stopped a dozen posts trying to wade into and through it, but haven’t found the words yet. Soon come.


  3. woaca2008

    yes, do keep writing, do keep feeling, and do keep locking your door — i’m with your family on this. (I lock my door all the time, and I live in an apartment building with 24-hour doormen. And I lock the windows that open onto the fire escape.)


    1. Oh, I would totally lock my door in an apartment building … and my fire escape windows. I’ve always locked my door … until here. But please remember: there’s that big iron gate/door that is totally locked all the time. People really can’t just walk in off the street. 🙂


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