Public Parks vs. My ‘Hood

Recently, I took my children to¬† park day at Lincoln Glen Park in the middle of San Jose, a neighborhood between cute old small Willow Glen homes which house both upscale families who love the character of old neighborhoods and immigrants who look for affordable housing. It’s a fairly busy park with a regular traffic of stay-at-home moms.

We left in a rush to catch a showing of “Rio” at Almaden Cinemas with our group. The movie was delightful, but when we left, we realized, we’d left Kelly’s scooter (recently inherited from Neil) at the park. In quite a panic, we left to see if we could still find it there. To our pleasant surprise, we found it parked right behind a tree, and took it home.

The next day, we went to another park day, whereupon I realized I couldn’t find the tub of sunscreen we’d bought in Australia and been using ever since. The last time I remembered using it has been the day before at the other park, so I cruised past, and saw it clearly at the exact spot I’d left it.

I was very happy to recuperate my sunscreen (as well as the scooter the day before) but it highlighted the so-recent deterioration of my own place. For 13 years it was safe and crime-free, but in 2009, a creepy thief–or thieves–started casing us. They stole GPS’s out of cars in driveways, and in September 2010 one of them was bold enough to steal Peter’s car, right out of our driveway. Now I am paranoid: my GPS resides in my backpack, in my house, as does my wallet, and at times I wake up in the middle of the night, afraid they have not been taken in. I now make sure the door is locked in case thieves decide they want to move beyond my driveway.

The thieves depend on anonymity. So a thief could have easily taken items at the park incognito and it took more courage to steal in my neighborhood where the close neighbors know one another. And yet, the anonymous park is safer than my own driveway, and that makes me angry.

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