One of my favorite movies is Chocolat. In it, the heroine Vianne is a free spirit, a perpetual outsider who has spent of her life drifting around France. When the wind blows in from the north, it awakens in her the urge to move on and find someplace new. At the start of the movie the wind blows her into a small town where she opens a chocolate shop and changes the community forever, eventually deciding to stay put and finally let roots grow for her and her daughter. Root are hard to grow when you are constantly adrift, yet I also understand the call to move on and find someplace new.

Today the winds are calling me, and I am feeling the urge to move on, or at least away. These impulses come from time to time, when I wonder if my family would be happier somewhere radically different from the hectic consumer driven culture that dominates our area. Would they be healthier living someplace walkable and more accommodating to bikes? Would they be happier living someplace with more nature and fewer malls? Would we be happier with a simpler lifestyle with less stuff and more free time?

Would they be safer?

That’s the question today. I learned this morning that a local 19 year old girl crashed her car through the parking lot of my childrens’ school earlier this week. This was at 7 am two days ago at the school a few blocks up my street. She most likely drove past my house before driving over the school’s lawn and into a parked car. The police found 26 bags containing traces of heroin on her possession, and she was charged with driving while intoxicated…at 7 am.

I live in a nice neighborhood within a community that likes to think it is low-crime, kid-friendly, and safe, and yet this is not the first time there’s been an incident involving heroin uncomfortably close to my home. There have also been a recent mugging in nearby parking lot, an armed robbery of a local gold dealer (which was ongoing while I was 100 yards away picking Thing 1 up at her piano lesson in the same shopping complex), and several violent robberies at nearby gas stations.

I know that no place is ever completely safe, and that crime happens everywhere from the big city to the loneliest rural outpost. When the north winds blow and I have that urge to move on, I understand that my dissatisfaction with where I am might very well be something internal that I would bring with me wherever I land, and that I need to do the work Here rather than yearn for a better There. But I also find myself wondering more and more if my family wouldn’t truly be better off in a community with values that are closer to our own, where my husband and I wouldn’t need to work so many hours to make ends meet, and where heroin junkies don’t crash through the school grounds in the early morning hours.

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