Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine times out of one hundred, people are okay: definitely quirky, truly strange, undoubtedly weird, and yes, perhaps freakish, awkward, sometimes repellent — but not abusive, not cruel, not insane, not homicidal. Each time I leave the house, I want to remember that. Each time I interact with strangers, I want them to remember that. Each time my eyes meet those of a stranger’s, I want to remember kindness. To that end, I am going to do thirty-one things, ninja-sneaky, to keep faith with peace. Thirty-one things to remind myself that we are people of the light. If we walk in the light, not everyone is out to get us. If we light our lights, we make the night brighter for everyone.
At the New Year we determined that there was something better, perhaps, to focus on in our daily lives than the things the news media wanted us to look at – and while things have continued to happen in news cycles this year, it’s been good to look up and away from where our focus is drawn and to re-see that, around us, most of the time it’s not like that.
Case in point:
Last Thursday, T. was working on laundry, in a desultory fashion, and between folding clothes and reading realized that she was hearing loud voices and helicopters. She assumed that a.) there was some sort of traffic thing going on, and people were being med-evac-ed somewhere, and b.) that the yard guys for Mrs. Bingham had the radio up really loudly.
Imagine her horrified surprise to go out to get the mail and discover that it was c.) none of the above. There were, instead, nine sheriff’s cars slewed across the road at various angles, cutting off access to the street, and the SWAT team in the driveway of the house across the street.
Ironic that the neighbor had exchanged smiles with us about the turkey antics just the week before. It seemed so odd to now know his name, courtesy of the loudspeaker, and for hours T. heard over and over again, “We don’t want to hurt you. No one wants to go in and get you. Just follow our instructions, and come out with your hands up where we can see them.”
From about 2pm – 5pm, this went on, and then as what looked like a tank pulled up and disgorged men in camouflage and helmets, officers began running around. T. almost wanted to take pictures, but was torn between watching, and moving away, unhappy to see crowds gathering on the other end of the barricade that she could see, smoking, and talking in groups as if someone was filming. This is a person’s real life! she railed at them silently, but they didn’t move.
And then, a peremptory banging on her own door. An officer in sunglasses, carrying a rifle, gesturing at her to come out. Another man in camouflage, standing in her bushes, pointing a long gun at the neighbor’s house. A moment of hot panic as T. tried to hurry away, was redirected away from the sidewalk, and cut through side yards and the neighbor’s place, shadowed by an officer behind and an escort in front, still pointing that gun. Relief at seeing D. waiting impatiently at another barricade, in the car.
And, another long, long wait. At least this time we were together. And, D. had stopped by the library, so T. had a book. We sat in the car and cautiously met some of our neighbors, also sitting in their cars. We watched neighbors open their homes to each other, as bathroom and food needs wore on. The police went into homes and grabbed diabetes medication when one neighbor needed it, and spots on the front lawn were generously shared. And we waited. And we waited.
And we jumped – gasped – at the first flash-bombs. And heard the whistle of the gas as twelve canisters crashed through the windows. We waited on edge, in silence. And then… it was done.
The first of the neighbors were allowed into the house on foot at 9:45. We were the last in, at 10 p.m., and then were allowed to retrieve the car from the end of the block at 10:20. Suffice it to say that we were weary beyond bearing. T. slipped into bed and dropped like a stone, while D. prowled the house, watching the activity beyond the bright spotlights, as the officers cleared the scene.
One of us could barely rise the following morning. One of us rose all too early. And thus we have 4 AM Macaroons.
The craze for the 3 Ingredient Cookie has rolled from baby blogs to vegan challenge blogs, and we’ve had various variations on them – oatmeal, banana and raisin, oatmeal, banana, cranberry – even peanut butter. D. went a bit above three ingredients, but the spirit was the same – most of the sweetening comes from banana, and there’s a bit of fiber, a bit of sweet, and a simplicity that works well with a cup of tea.
4 AM MACAROONS
- 16 oz. – 1 lb. finely shredded coconut
- 2 lg. bananas
- 1 c. Sugar
- 1/2 c. Flour
- 1/2 c. Water
- 1/4 c. Canola
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 2 tsp. Baking Pwdr
- 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. Ginger
- Chocolate chunks, optional
The beauty of coconut is that it’s spiky, so it’s very easy to mash the ingredients together on this one. It creates a sticky paste, which D. rolled out and then scored with a pizza cutter into tiny, two-inch squares. He then topped each with a chocolate chunk, and baked them at 325°/170° for a half hour on a Silpat. Your time may vary. D. thinks next time he’ll let them brown a little more.
You may think that this story proves counter to the idea that the world is not as dark or bad as the media would have us believe – but it doesn’t. Though they left the house as neat as they could, sweeping the street and clearing away, things were broken when the neighbor was removed from his mother’s house. Friday morning, she stood in the drive and wept, as neighbors gathered round, hugged her, and, with face masks, buckets, and vacuums, took the first few steps to restoring the place to rights. By afternoon, the windows were boarded up, the carpets cleaned, and the beginnings of order emerged. Small doings, perhaps, in the scheme of a life. But, big things, when that life has been so brutally and publicly disrupted.
And though we neighbors were frightened, cowed, horrified and inconvenienced by turns, this was a minor blip in the landscape of our lives. Some people have to live this way all the time. There were dogs and robots and SWAT teams, and no one died. We are unimaginably blessed.
So, we walk on, with hope in our hearts.
EDITED TO ADD: Full story, since many are asking.