In the 18 years I’ve lived here, I’ve felt relieved to get away from the crime and violence that were an everyday part of big city life.
Just the other day, after the mass shooting in Boulder, I remarked to a coworker that I loved that those incidents didn’t happen in Maine.
It’s not that I was scared of living in those big cities, I just hated that I had to factor in the potential for so many bad things to happen. I took the subway to high school, back when the Guardian Angels would ride the cars to help make them safer for passengers. My first job out of college was in the Empire State Building, a building which always had the potential to become a high profile terrorist target.
When I moved to Maine, I left so much stress behind. I’m totally high strung and plagued by anxieties, so it was nice to be able to lop a few off the list.
Today, though, those old fears and anxieties returned.
It all started around 10:00 when I went upstairs to gather the laundry. From my view in the master bedroom, I could see a police car parked at the end of my block.
Police cars are a rare sight in my neighborhood. Seeing one caught my attention, but I didn’t think much of it.
The next time I looked out the window, though, there was a second police car a little further down the block. This set off internal alarms, and caused me to start texting neighbors.
The leader of the group was parked in front of my house, and my neighbor was able to question him quickly. He told her we were safe, but they were interested in someone down the street.
Via texts with my neighbors, we pieced together that there had been shouting from a house down the street last night and this morning. The police had arrived to investigate the disturbance.
The next time I looked out the front window, that head officer had a large assault weapon in his hand, and appeared to be checking it for readiness.
Shortly thereafter, officers told everyone to go inside. I noticed people being evacuated from two houses down the street. My neighbor, who is a reporter for the local news, overheard officers talking about a possible hostage situation.
At this point, there were about a dozen law enforcement vehicles visible from my house.
The neighbors kept in touch via text, and I did my best to update my neighborhood’s Facebook page, as other residents saw the police presence, and wanted to know what was happening.
I wasn’t scared, but I was definitely tense and anxious. I did a lot of pacing from room to room to check the street. I got out the laptop and worked on my novel. Once the Yankees game started, I was better distracted.
Then my friend Joy, who lives down the block, texted that about 10 officers in full tactical gear were in front of her house. I went to my bathroom window, which looks out on the side street where the “problem house” was located, and could see three officers in tactical gear in the ready position on the corner.
As you can see, three officers in tactical gear stand at the ready by the corner of the brown house. Another officer stands next to his car, weapon at the ready.
Meanwhile, our neighbor is in his driveway, loading his dirty laundry into his car so he can make a trip to the laundromat.
Something about the juxtaposition in the photo made me laugh, and caused my anxiety levels to abate.
I mean, I totally get it. I was doing laundry, too. It’s a great distraction during a time of crisis. Then again, I’ve got a washer and dryer in my basement, which means I didn’t have to carry my dirty undies past the heavily armed tactical team to get the job done.
This standoff went on almost all afternoon. I tried to lose myself in the Yankees game, but it was hard to ignore the fact that so much firepower was visible from pretty much any window in my house.
Then about 3:00, I checked the bathroom window. To my relief, dozens of tactical officers were pouring out of the “problem house”. I hadn’t heard any gunfire or seen any ambulance speeding away from the scene.
The tactical officers soon departed, and regular officers entered the building. Years of watching police procedurals had taught me that this meant the big trouble was over, and the investigation was underway.
I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but I just know it’s over now.
I went outside an hour later to take a few photos. As you can see, there was no sign that anything out of the ordinary had darkened the doorstep of my neighborhood for five excruciating hours.
I was grateful that law enforcement had been there to keep me safe, but I was quite thrilled that they were nowhere to be seen on a quiet Spring afternoon.
It was a sobering day in the neighborhood. Clearly, nowhere is immune from crime and violence, but I do count myself lucky that I’ve found a place that makes me feel much less anxious about what’s out there in the world.
Stay safe out there, Modern Philosophers!