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Your Security Stories

 

security in change

Submitted August 19, 2011 1:26 AM

There were days I didn’t see a single face I recognized and ate 3 meals a day out of tupperware containers, and during that time I began to discover the unencumbrance that comes hand in hand with solitude, the freedom from time that provides the opportunity to look at pastries in windows, to get fresh vegetables, to walk.

I met people because I was alone–the woman on the street who told me her life’s story while we walked to Grand Central, the cartoonist who showed me his drawings, convinced I was a writer, the dancer who stopped me at the subway and told me I had a beautiful aura.

I stared at an older man who had something so lovely about his face and found him studying me back. He gave me his newspaper. I told a beautiful woman how strong she was. I harmonized loud with a bunch of strangers, and turned cartwheels in Bryant Park.

Reliance on strangers supersedes fear and shyness; there’s a stability to be found in being unencumbered by ones self.

 

Boo

Submitted August 15, 2011 9:22 PM

When i was a youngster, I had a stuffed animal named Boo. He was my best friend and snuggle buddy. Boo was there for me through the good times and bad. We went everywhere together. In a sense, he was my security.

One night in sleep-away camp, Lice was going around my group’s cabin. My camp counselor stripped off every item from every bed, making sure the lice wouldn’t spread. When i returned to the bunk after the night’s evening activities, we were told what had been done. I soon realized that Boo had been taken away as well. At that moment I started to cry. I couldn’t understand why he had to be taken away with the bedding. Boo was my friend, and I was worried about him. I couldn’t sleep that night because my sense of security had been taken away.

The feeling of security comes in many shapes and sizes, and I’ll never forget the comforting security that I shared with Boo.

Safety in Failure

Submitted August 15, 2011 9:01 PM

I’d taken two years off from dancing to mend my ripped hamstrings and now I was returning to class at STEPS on Broadway. Before my injury I had been a total ’bunhead’. Post injury? Not so much; it hurt to stand in 5th. Instead of David Howard and Wilhelm Burmann, I decided to go the Horton technique route with Troy Powell. I loved it. Who would have thought that a flat back and primitive squat could be so fun?

Troy had taken over Milton Myers’ class for the summer while he was away at Jacob’s Pillow. A few weeks into my training, Milton returned. Milton teaches the premier advanced Horton technique class in the city; of course I didn’t know this. My first class with him was filled with over 70 people who had come in to celebrate Milton’s return. They made up the who’s who creme de la creme of Ailey, Philadanco, Ballet Hispanico and the greater contemporary dance world. Though overwhelmingly beyond me (and built like The Gods), these people were all incredibly friendly and I felt I was up to the challenge of hanging with them in class.

The first across the floor killed me. I was stuck in the middle of the floor with no idea how to get out of there. I didn’t know how to go forward, I didn’t know how to go back, and every one was staring at me. You know those people who think they can dance but who clearly don’t have it? You know how you wish they’d just get a clue and go back to their office job or get over their illusions of grandeur? I was that person. As I prepared to have my first mental collapse, I suddenly heard the crisp calm voice of Milton instructing me how to get through. He talked me through the remainder of the piece and off of the floor. Somehow I managed to finish the class and escape without dying (though to be honest I felt worse than dead- I felt like a fool).

I took the remainder of the month off from dancing and resolved to give it up altogether. On a whim I decided to take a cheezy breezy jazz class. On my way to class I ran into Milton who asked, ’Dancer, when will you be back in class?’ I stammered a non-comittal answer and ran off to class. The class was easy, the class was fun; it was not challenging, it was not Horton, there was no way to fail, there was no way to grow. In the middle of class I heard Milton’s voice talking me across the floor again; urging me on; encouraging me not to give up; telling me that is was okay to fail so I long as I got back up to try again. With Milton I felt safe to fail and secure in the knowledge that the only way to grow was to do so.

That’s when I felt secure to continue dancing.

9/11, through the eyes of a seventh grader

Submitted August 15, 2011 7:36 PM

I grew up in an affluent town in New Jersey, a short thirty-minute drive from Manhattan. My father, who had lived apart from our family since I was two, resided in the city. As a youngster, I was pretty unsure of what my father did on a daily basis, I knew he worked in technology and that he lived in Manhattan, but nothing further. This lack of detail made for a dangerous scenario on the day of the attack.

9/11 began as a normal day in school. Students kept getting called down to the main office, but I didn’t think anything of it (except maybe there were more students than usual getting in trouble). As teachers began to enter classrooms and whisper with one another more frequently toward 3pm, I began to feel a little uncomfortable, but again, didn’t think too much of it. In retrospect, the stress level of the entire building was over-whelming, but thinking back, I again, failed to think anything of it.

When the bell rang and I left the building, an abnormal amount of parents had shown up to take their kids home. Unfortunately, my mom was always working late and I began my walk home with good friends. I was walking behind a frantic father, holding his daughter’s hand and almost pushing her along, his pace much faster than hers. I heard him whisper that the twin towers had been hit. I leaned over to my friend Jessica and said, “No way. That has to be a rumor.” The father whipped around, angrily, simply responding “It’s not a rumor. We’re under attack.”

I rushed to Jessica’s house, frantically wanting to call my father. All the phone lines were down. Everytime I called, a busy signal met my over-eager ear buds. I couldn’t reach him for three hours. All I could think was, did he work that day? Where was his office? Was he working at the towers? Was he alive? I remember crying hysterically. We had the news on and it wasn’t helping one bit. I remember the graphic footage and my inability to comprehend what this lack of response from my dad could mean. After what felt like an eternity, I called again and was able to hear his voice. He was okay and had worked out of the city that day.

That day will forever be inscribed in my mind, as it is in every other American’s.

Europe, circa 1982

Submitted October 24, 2010 12:19 AM

I feel secure knowing that a system of laws has my back, or at least provides a buffer between me and unbridled evil. Laws act as the higher authority that holds the hope that judgment may be entered against those who act with willful disregard for another’s humanity.

My story goes like this.

Europe, circa 1982. I was walking away from the train station late at night on a dark and mostly deserted street weighed down by my duffle bag and fatigue. A few blocks into the walk, as I passed the XXX movie theaters from the safe distance of the other side of the street, I started to feel a creepy presence a few yards behind me. Sensing that this presence was a bit too interested in mine, I crossed to the other side of the road. Much to my dismay I glanced over my shoulder to see a man switch course to cross with me. I hastened my steps and decided to head for familiar territory through a narrow parking lot and down a side street to the stage door of the theater. In horror I realized that the shady presence had left the sidewalk as well, and was quickly closing ground. He was no more than 2 feet away… with one hand reaching into his jacket pocket … to pull out…???

I was too terrified to scream but at that very moment a woman appeared from around the corner. Her eyes took in the two of us and suddenly the tension eased. The follower non-chalantly retuned to the sidewalk and proceeded resolutely ahead into the bar at the next corner. I sighed in relief. Episode over.

It was not the woman who saved me and changed my stalker’s mind; she herself hardly posed a threat. It was the laws on the books that shifted the balance of power once a witness appeared on the scene. No system is perfect and witnesses can be intimidated but I am grateful that thus far I have lived in countries where there is at least the possibility that injustices may be addressed through a peaceful process and that the fear of consequences helps apply the brakes to otherwise inhuman interaction.