The night around me was crawling with activity and noise. People were chatting as they stood in doorways, children screaming, then Moms screaming back at them. The odor of cooking food drifting on the air from open windows, some distinguishable, others so mingled with the street smells that the origination could no longer be determined. I wrinkled my nose at the smells.
I glanced down at my feet as I walked and I thought about my conversation with my best friend, Samantha – Sam for short. We were sitting in the student union at the university over cappuccino and books. Somehow, we ended up challenging each other to each walk a mile in the other’s shoes…figuratively speaking.
My thoughts were disrupted as two young men began making catcalls at me. I lifted my eyes up off of my feet to peer into leering eyes glazed with undisguised desire. Frightened, I began to run. I knew I was within a block of Sam’s house – within a block of safety. I lifted my feet and put them down harder than I ever did in my life. The smell of fear was all over me.
As I ran, I thought about the mile Sam was walking to my own home. The streets were graced with older, comfortable homes. The neighborhood had a charm of its own with big ancient oak trees and houses set back from the street by big lush green lawns. My neighbor would be walking her little dog – a dog that stays amazingly white and fluffy. There are no dinner smells because all the homes are air conditioned. The only fragrance drifting on the air was cut grass.
I was bored with my home and complained to my friend Sam about living in such a boring neighborhood. All of our neighbors were elderly. My parents had fallen in love with the charm of the neighborhood when I was 5 years old. They watched closely for a house – any house – to be placed on the market. Such was how much they loved and desired to live in that beautiful neighborhood. At that time, all the neighbors were in mid-life; children grown up and gone. It was a lonely childhood for me. I think I was always bored. Now, all of our neighbors were seniors. Yes…life was boring indeed…
Pounding feet from behind brought me back from my drifting thoughts. In fear, I ran faster – my feet hitting the pavement like no other time in my life. My heart felt like it would explode from the fear and the physical exertion. Yet I ran until I reached the door of Sam’s home. I was sobbing as I pounded on the door for entry. It was then that I felt a hand touch my back. I screamed with fear as the hand reached around me and drew me into arms. I spun around in the circle of those arms, expecting the worst. I found myself looking into the eyes of my friend, Sam. She drew me to her and hugged the fear out of me. I was so happy to see her and to know that I was safe, yet I wondered why she was here.
Sighing with relief, I asked why she was here and not on that tree lined street of boredom. Sam smiled gently, and then said “I could not let you walk such a hard mile alone.”
I had never been out of the sight of my friend. As she held me in her arms, a peace came over me. I thought about how my Mom had always said that fear and God cannot occupy the same place, therefore, I should never fear because God is always with me. Just as I had never been out of the sight of my friend, I am never out of the sight of my God.
Suddenly, I knew that I had sadly confused boredom with peace. I think I shall now always know the difference.