So yes. I used to live on 40 bucolic acres WAY off the beaten path.

It was everything – until it wasn’t.

Now I live on Valley…

In the past few weeks we have taken more hits than even the most sardonic, semi-comedic writer could possibly stomach.

Shootings, stabbings, robberies… domestic calls like crazy. What – is – happening???

In the same breath I must scream from the seven mountaintops that I have the greatest neighbors EVER!!!’

Pearl, across the street, brings us cookies, fudge, lasagna and the greatest stuffed shells EVER.

A concerned ‘Dad like’ neighbor on the third floor vigilantly spots my drains becoming clogged and happily volunteers to clean them out.

My sidewalks are shoveled before I wake up.

My friend Sherri drives by daily, honking her horn with extreme ‘good morning!’ fervor. (Good thing because she’s WAY better than any alarm!)

When I take a morning walk I inevitably bump into the gregarious guy that runs ‘The Trolley Car’, our favorite local breakfast joint.

After dropping off my son at school I stop for coffee at East End, home of my friends and owners whose band just played our St. Pat’s Day Bash. I never have to tell him what I want because Amy, the awesome proprietor of Subway next door, has already bought my Matcha before I could contest.

I hit the bank and can’t leave for at least 20 minutes because I gotta catch up with everyone.

We walk to our local watering hole a whole THREE blocks away IN THE DARK and I have NEVER felt uneasy.

Nope. I am not ‘from here’. I am still a wide-eyed, over forty, artistic, always dreaming outsider from the south side of Chicago. Which allows me to realistically see the beauty of a troubled small town. It has issues upon issues BUT IT IS STILL A SMALL TOWN.

I KNOW my son’s teachers. WELL.

I know the guy who delivers my mail.

I know the Schwann man and can attack him for Gold-n-Bars at will.

My UPS guy is one of my best friends.

My bartenders, servers, shop owners, office holders, tax collector… they are my friends.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I feel safe.

I feel loved.

I love my town.

I love my neighborhood.

I’m not going anywhere!

I – am – safe.