Seeing the light

I just got back from taking my youngest son to school at 5 am so he could go on a trip to Waco with his class for a culinary competition. I can’t quite unwind yet so I have to write.

What I realized from being out at 5 am (something I rarely experience) is that holy crap, there’s a lot of light pollution here. I know I noticed the extreme lack of light pollution back home in mid-Michigan when I went a few months ago.

As I come up very soon on the five-year anniversary of when I arrived back here, I’m reminded that I greatly prefer it here. Not just in spite of the light pollution, but because of it.

I know, I’m probably not supposed to feel that way. I think light pollution is supposed to be bad, one of the low-level stressors of living in a big metro area. But it’s not stressful to me (though they may find someday that it caused my MS or something, who knows.)

Light pollution actually makes me feel safer. Total quiet and darkness is scary to me, even a little threatening. Some people say their dream is to live in a secluded cabin in the woods, miles from their nearest neighbors. That, however, is the stuff of horror movies to me. Any type of remote country area gives me the willies.

I’m not like most people, I don’t think. I don’t want to get away. I like knowing there are millions of people in my metro area. It makes me feel safe, yet also anonymous at the same time, which may be why it makes me feel safer.

When there are millions of people around, the odds of even being noticed are slim. Whereas living in a small town was anything but anonymous; everyone knew your business. People could (and did) threaten me out in the open with nobody around to see.

I don’t know for sure that having tons of people around actually makes me safer. The Kitty Genovese case proved that bystanders won’t necessarily help you even if they see you’re being attacked. But I have been attacked in a small town and no one helped me. I have not been attacked in the suburbs of a big city.

I take my comfort in the concept of safety in numbers. Valid or not, I’m much less afraid in big cities than in small towns.

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