I spent the first few nights in my new apartment this weekend. It's funny. I've been living alone for the past 2 years, but it always takes me a while to convince myself that every new home is, in fact, home. This apartment is special, though. It is the nicest place I have ever lived in. The neighborhood is on the fringes or just beginning to improve. All around my building (a 2 unit dwelling dressed to look like a house) and the one next to mine (built by the same contractor at the same time) lurk vacant lots of scraggy grass and buildings that are due to collapse or be torn down any day now (including the one on the other side of mine). I mean, I didn't live in a much better neighborhood before I moved here, but at least people lived there. I move 4 blocks away and I'm in a desert. Our two little houses stick out like the two only good teeth in the mouth of what was once a very pretty lady; the two remaining teeth are not accounted to her as "good" and you are more likely wanting to knock them out just to make everything even. This is how I feel about my new place, or, rather, how other people feel about my new place.

It is beautiful on the inside. Freshly painted, all new appliances, central air/heat, lots of windows and flow through, washer dryer hookups. It's on the second floor, a prerequisite in any neihgborhood that borders the Quarter, since people are prone to using stoops as seating. What happened a week ago also proves why I require this. The neighbor right next door to me lives on the ground floor (it's only got one floor). She moved in shortly before I did and my building was empty at the time. She also has an alarm system. My apartment is wired for an alarm system but I cannot afford it. Well, someone cut off her electricty, broke a window in the rear of the building, grabbed her TV and left. Millie, our mutual landlord, told me this just after I had moved all my things in there before I was technically allowed to move in. She called them "petty theives" and not to worry because they'll only take what requires the least effort and that thieves seldom ever bother with a second floor dwelling. Well, what about the elderly lady who lives below me? The elderly lady is really cool, though, and she informed me she has a gun. Ironically, she lived on the same exact block I lived on before I moved, yet we never met. My old neighborhood was that kind of neighborhood. The old lady and I are white; our old neighborhood was primarily not white; our new neighborhood is empty for now.

Less than a week later, the TV was recovered. A man who introduced himself to me when I was moving things in and lives a block away saw the thieves running from the scene and her things were returned to her. She is still scared and wants to go back to her old apartment.

For obvious reasons, my first night sleeping in the apartment was edgy. I couldn't sleep well at all. It's so much quieter there than in my old neighborhood. Dead quiet. Since I didn't yet have my phone hooked up, I asked Carson to sleep over. The following morning, a man knocks on my door downstairs and hands me my own wallet, saying he'd found it in a garbage bag 10 blocks from here. Right. I had just used my wallet the night before, but I had charged my purchases because I had no cash. I felt bad that I couldn't give him something as a reward, but I also didn't think he was giving it back as a good Samaritan. In either case, I wouldn't give him any money. I rushed to Carson's to use his phone and check the balances of my ATM and credit cards, which ended up being untouched. I ran through in my mind all the scenarios that would have put my wallet in a vulernable place and decided that it must have either fallen out in the parking lot at Walgreen's or out of my car when I drove home.

The thing is, I am not leaving. I am not going to be scared away. I waited over a month for this place and intend to enjoy it. The rent is dirt cheap and I can afford it. I thought about getting renter's insurance, but I don't own anything of tangible value; besides, if someone did break into my home, insurance wouldn't buy back peace of mind. Same deal with the alarm system; they cut my neighbor's power, so why wouldn't they just cut mine? The whole reason I live where I live is because I am a poverty-level opportunist who likes to live alone. These are the risks I take. I simply refuse to live in fear.

Note to noders who read this and are staying with me for next weekend's gathering: I didn't intend this to scare anyone or make them feel like they were sleeping in a ghetto. But I'm not going to lie either and say that I live in a really secure neighborhood. This is a city just like any other city.