Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back in the City

I picked up Shantal from a Birthday party in Düsseldorf last Friday night. It was a lovely fall night with relatively warm weather and no rain. I was taken aback by the calmness of the city and a flood of memories came rushing in.

The birthday party was just three blocks from our old furnished apartment. The apartment we lived in for 2 1/2 months after arriving in Germany a year ago. And as I drove by our old stomping grounds, the city seemed suddenly so safe and serene compared to our recently turbulent lives in the country.

The city has a sort of calm and peace despite all of the noise. An anonymity and accessibility that is missing in the country. A sort of freedom to be alone for yourself that we haven't had in the country lately. Naturally there are transportation advantages in the city as well. Easy access to all things bus and tram (bahn). Shopping is easy to get to. Work isn't to far away and the nice thing about German cities is that the greenery also is not too far away. In Düsseldorf where we lived the Rhein was about 7-8 blocks away.

Naturally the country has great advantages as well. A nice backyard, two parks right around the corner, the quiet in the air, and the relatively quiet streets, among other things. But I longed for the city that night.

I picked up Shantal at her friends house (a girl from Norway from our congregation). We ran over to my company's office to drop off an expense voucher and then back home. We had a nice time together. Shantal put balloons and streamers in her hair before we left the party and looked very pretty and playful - she's good at being playful and having fun.

Then we came home and Tamara had some bad news to share with me and some related information for the kids - there has been a stalker at the school this last week (kids knew already, but I hadn't been able to speak with Tamara yet). Parents were notified on Friday and Tamara had some information to give to the children regarding safety. The stalker has apparently taken photos of the children on the playground (from behind some bushes) approached two children and asked them to get into a car. They ran and told the principle.

The school's reaction has been swift and appropriate (all parents were notified even though only a few children reported a problem, and even though there were no other witnesses). It is pleasant to see such a strong reaction from the school and to see parents talking to each other to unitedly ensure the safety of their children.

It is, however, a horrific feeling to think about the possibility of losing a child, or of having a child molested and returned. Obviously it can happen anywhere and at anytime, but on that night it just strengthened my feelings that the city was more of a safe haven as compared to our lives here in the country and I longed for a feeling of security.

Gratefully we have two weeks of Fall break and visit from grandma and grandpa. And, we will return the kids to school with more rigorous security measures after the break.

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March 2007