It was unseasonably warm when I got here six weeks ago. The balminess likely contributed to my initial impression that this was a more peaceful city. The traffic certainly wasn’t as bad as in Seattle —unless I got on one of the myriad and confusing highways that require multiple exchanges between them in order to get to your destination, and even those are heavy during rush hour and not so much at other times.

That first week, when I drove down sunny, treelined streets in South Minneapolis, with kids playing in yards and Halloween decorations proliferating outside well-tended homes, I kept thinking about The Truman Show, so I guess I had an inkling even then that all was not as it seemed. I knew that my neighborhood had its challenges but, while I walked by closed stores and passed few others on the street, I didn’t feel that it was threatening.

It took me switching my NextDoor membership from Seattle to my neighborhood here in Minneapolis for a different reality to start intruding itself into my unwilling consciousness. This is just a small sampling of what has come in there and on the news:

I know things are happening all over the country. But starting in a new city when people who have lived here for years are increasingly jumpy about their safety is challenging. It takes time to learn to read the signs in a new place. One of the apartments I considered renting when I came on my exploratory visit in September is in the building in which the sleeping woman’s car was stolen from the garage. To my uneducated eye, the neighborhood it’s in, though close to where I am now, seemed safer. “Oh no,” said my daughter-in-law. “I wouldn’t feel safe with you there.” Boy, was she right and there is no way I could have made that judgment on my own.

But I can’t take her with me whenever I go out (the county police department made a video giving advice on how to prevent and deal with carjackings; among the not so helpful tips for a single person is not to drive alone), so I’m doing my best to adapt. I’m no longer carrying a handbag and ordered a cute little belt bag from lululemon that fits easily under my coat. My car keys are now kept in my coat pocket, where they can easily be handed over should the situation require. My house keys are in a different pocket. I don’t know what I’ll do when spring and summer come and I won’t be wearing a coat but I have time to figure that one out. And maybe, by then, the city will have figured out how to handle what’s going on here. I hope so.

The good news is that the 70-year-old woman got her dog back. Her car, on the other hand, was totaled.


  1. Oy vey!
    I stopped reading the Next Door app near us. I remain vigilant, but reading the constant bad news was too depressing.
    Stay safe. I will, as always, keep you circled in light.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your concerns, dear Ruth, and the disappointments you are experiencing as you have made such a large change in your life. Our world, no matter where we now live, does seem less safe or comfortable than we might recall it from the past. It does seem as though your creativity has kicked into gear as to how to keep yourself as safe as possible, so good for you!

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  3. so rumor has it that next door is changing its name to “vigilantes are us.“

    These stores may be true just as the maximum misery loves company has some truth to it. But if the juice is it gets flowing are bile, better to spit it out to drink it up. we get the same kind of stories in Green Lake in Lake Forest Park. Here in LA we can drive through Beverly Hills and watch Christmas decorations or go through downtown and see filth and tents.

    We make snap judgments. It’s a shortcut. But heuristics have a Darkside as well.

    Be vigilant but not paranoid. If you go looking for trouble you’ll find it or you can look for the good and praise it. Your choice.


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  4. I’m so sorry to hear all this, Ruth. I’m so sorry to hear of the lawlessness of your neighborhood and wonder how much that has deteriorated over the the last few years. I know our country has changed. We are far more polarized, antagonistic, and physically and verbally abusive. Violence, racism, anti-semitism, anti-LGBTQ, misoginism have been unleashed and too often encouraged by powerful politicians. I know a family who once could politely disagree about issues, that now openly fights and are no longer able to be together, even for holidays. We are not the same country. I grieve for all that has been lost and waver in my hopes for our future! Will democracy survive? Will we remain a country where all are celebrated as equal, with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my! Beautiful writing – ugly circumstances…but yes, it does seem to be a trend around the world…this kind of harshness…lack of respect for indiivdual safety and calm…and I feel with you …knowing what it is like to do this alone. Holding you in my heart and seeing you wrapped in protection and safety, and there are going to be many many blessings and gifts along the way for you in this new adventure. Much Love Jane Bakken Have a wonderful, sacred and fulfilling Holiday Season –

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yikes, Ruth. It is unsettling. In a new city and new neighborhood where things are not familiar, it becomes even more unsettling. Then again, familiarity can give a false sense of security. So glad your daughter-in-law knows the city and will be able to advise what areas are safe and which are not.

    Good advice not to carry a purse and keep car keys separate from apartment keys – something we should all be doing.

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