I remember as a little girl when I would play outside with my friends and we'd lie in the grass looking up into the open blue sky imagining what our lives would one day become. We'd enjoy when a plane flew overhead watching it piercing through the sky and the sound of the engine tingling in our ears. Sometimes we'd get up and watch it as it disappeared behind buildings and reappear as if magic. Then I'd wonder where was the plane going and could the people on the plane see us looking up at them? Those were the good ole days. Conjuring up those old childhood memories brings a smile to my face, and then I think of how when I see a plane flying overhead how terrified I become. Is the plane hiding behind the large skyscrapers, or will it crash and burn into an office building killing multiple people at one time? Nine eleven made me hate airplanes, and the fear of getting on one is that much stronger than ever before. What once was a joy to me was stripped the moment terrorists decided to shred my faith and replace it with fear. After all, that's a terrorist job--to invoke fear, and I'd say they're winning the war on that!
I remember wanting to go into tall buildings so I could see all the little people walking around town--appearing like tiny ants in a movement. But after nine eleven, I am very uncomfortable in skyscrapers. I really don't want to be in a building over nine floors high, which it practically impossible to do when you work in an office building with over 38 floors inside. On the days there's a rain storm and the thunder begins to clap rather loudly, I can feel its strength in my office building. I look toward the window to make sure it is in fact rain, and the sound I'm hearing is thunder. I remember the time when I didn't even think about such things. Seems silly, but I have to look to make sure.
The Fourth of July was such a great time for my brother and I. We couldn't wait for the fireworks show to begin. We'd sit outside with most of the other kids and watch the sky light up with shimmering golds, blues, fiery red and orange sparkles in the sky. The best part of the show was the finale when it seemed like hundreds of fireworks were going off all at the same time. We'd cheer and clap and was full of happiness. But now, I despise the Fourth of July. When my neighbors decide to put on their own private fireworks display, I find myself ducking and dodging inside my home because the sounds remind me of gunfire. Every Pop! Pop! Pop! I hear I wonder is it a firecracker or a gunshot? Nowadays, it's extremely hard to tell the difference. Especially when you factor in that I hear gunshots going off throughout the year, which really puts me on edge.
House parties used to be the thing to do back in the day. Anybody who was anybody wanted to be at that party. Dancing half the night away and kicking it with your friends was just something to pass the time and talk about years later. How could anyone guess going to a party today could possibly get you killed? Somebody has a beef with someone else, and tempers are flaring and the next thing you know, guns are flaring and Pow! somebody's shot or left dead. If you want to break up a party fast, gunshots will most certainly do that for ya! I can't think of anything that will get the party started like a little gunfire!
Long before direct deposit came into play, I had no problem doing my banking business at my local bank. The teller would count out your bills, and you'd gather them, place the money in an envelope and be on your merry way. If there is one thing I do love technology for and that's the fact that I never have to step foot inside a physical bank. I mean, why on earth would anyone want to go to a bank? Do you know how many of them get robbed and let's not leave out those who lose their life sometimes, behind some cowardly robber flexing his damn muscles and has something to prove. Anytime my banking needs require that I must go inside the bank, I feel myself getting a bit apprehensive and I'm eager to hurry up, get in line, get my money and roll. When MAC machines are down, unfortunately, you have to go inside, and I hate when that happens. Sometimes I'll just come back when the machine is fixed, just to keep from going inside. It's a damn shame--it truly is.
I love to walk. And one of my favorite places I used to enjoy walking to was the bookstore, that is, until all my favorite bookstores were closed down. It gave me pure joy to walk outside and feel the wind on my face and see the people. Yeah, walking is great to do, but walking can cause problems especially when you can get socked in the jaw with so much force that it breaks your jaw and leave you down on the ground for dead. This is what happened to a man who was leaving his office and walking around minding his business and some thug teenagers, out of the blue, punched him so hard in the face the force broke his jaw and he immediately fell to the ground. The poor victim never saw it coming, nor did the other pedestrians who were going about their day. So, walking around at lunchtime isn't so joyous for me to do anymore. And to further bring home my wanting to branch out, recently on a Friday afternoon, two men got into an altercation and began shooting at each other in broad daylight in the middle of town with innocent bystanders around. That act caused rush hour to be even more horrendous than normal.
I've never ran a marathon, but I have been a part of walk-a-thons to raise money for my favorite charities. Anytime my job asked for volunteers for walking, my hand usually went up. But after what recently happened at the Boston Marathon last week, I'm not so sure if I really want to be a part of any marathon, or be in situations where there are lots of people. The danger is just to risky. How pathetic is this?
So I ask you, when was the last time you felt safe? For me, was when I was a little girl when people were just beginning to get a little out of hand, but not so much I couldn't enjoy myself. My real fears came into play as an adult, and it seems anymore every time I look around, some massacre is just sitting there waiting to happen. When I see garbage and debris blowing around or lying on the ground, I wonder is that just garbage or is there something waiting to explode? When I see people around my office building that I'm not accustomed to seeing, I'll ask "May I help you?" Are you lost?" "Security is right this way." I don't have a problem doing that because I don't know who these individuals are and I want to make sure they get to where they need to be. Most people are very receptive to this. Anything I see out of the ordinary, I don't have a problem getting help from security to have these individuals removed, if that is the case. I think of the many people who lost their lives over some bullshit, and I sometimes think if only someone would have followed their gut and perhaps asked some questions, maybe, just maybe, the outcome would have been different. There are those people who don't like to get involved, but this is a very foolish way of thinking because you need to. Your very life could depend on it and I know my life is worth it, do you not agree?
To me, it seems like the insane person is trying to outdo the last insane person. It's like they are in direct competition with each other to see who will make the biggest history in America for having murdered senselessly. It's like they're sitting around saying, oh that nut murdered 10 people in a restaurant, well I'll outmatch him by murdering hundreds on a school campus. Oh, wait, that nut is getting so much notoriety, I can do better than that. I'll murder thousands and get my name in the books. What the hell is wrong with people anymore? If it isn't gun violence killing people, then you have these fools who make explosives. And what's so sad about that is, the explosives these idiots are carrying, it's no wonder the bomber himself didn't blow up transporting the explosives to its destination. My God, how many people have to die like this? For all the innocent things we as Americans used to take for granted, you just can't afford to do that anymore. Terrorists have stolen the "J" from our joy, and I don't know if we'll ever truly recover from it.
Today, you have to look over your shoulder all the time. When I see a person who appears unstable, my spidy senses go to tingling. I'm like what's up with this person and immediately, I'm seeking some type of authority to get this situation under control. Most times it turns out to be nothing, but one can never be too sure these days. At the end of the day, no matter how much fear I have of just living my life, I do continue to live it. It's not easy, especially with my phone getting all these horrible CNN reports and watching the news, which is why I try not to watch and read too often, but you just can't ignore the obvious.
Be watchful, be careful, be smart, be safe, and take an active role in your well-being--it just might save your life and the life of others!
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
Listen to Your Gut!