I walked to Gottingen to pick up a half litre of milk today at a little convenience store/meat market. Gottingen St. is a boarded up store front, white paint peeling off a graffiti mural. It's a dirt path that cuts through an empty lot littered with lottery stubs. It's a library, a YMCA. It is lined with crack-houses and art galleries, cafés and shelters. I used to go to one of the drop-in centres to hang out, but stopped going because there was nothing there for me to do. Things are ok on Gottingen St., people have their own routines, they know the routes they walk. I don't know if it is in my head, but there is a bit of a look of the hunted in some eyes.
This morning was our first at this new place. Paul went out on the bike this morning, and on his way back, a block away from home he passed a taped-off crime scene. A homicide, an old man, stabbed in a school yard at 3 am. I don't want to live here without living here, you know. We have chosen a neighbourhood where it is imperative to know your surroundings, to get to know your neighbours, to learn your own routes, good routines. It is important to be trusted, to be seen and to fit in. I think it is a good thing to force ourselves to do: this country is built on neighbourhoods where you can safely get my knowing none of your neighbours. It is in the inner city that your likelihood of thriving, of even staying safe, is very dependent on your connection to the community around you.
I think this is a good thing.