A couple of months after my mom died, we saw a small, independent film called “Leaving Normal”. Surreal. Little did we know how leaving normal we really were. We were in our car, heading east out of Century City toward our little house in the ‘hood, when we heard the news: All Four Officers Acquitted in the Rodney King Beating. We joked, “Hope our house is still there.” Surreal. Little did we know how not there our home would soon be.
We walked in the door, fired up the computers, put the baby in the swing. And assumed all was normal. Until the phone rang. It was one of our clients.
Are you guys okay?
Yeah, sure. Why?
Haven’t you seen the news?
No. We hardly ever watch t.v. What’s going on?
They’re rioting. In your neighborhood.
Some guy just got pulled out of a truck and nearly beaten to death. Turn on the news. You’ll see. Let me know if you need a place to go.
We turned on the t.v. There was our neighborhood. The small, family-owned grocery store where we shopped. The dry-cleaner. The bank. All broken, looted, going up in flames. We could smell the smoke. Looters were running up and down the street with shopping carts balancing cases of liquor, television sets, shoes, clocks, anything they could get their hands on. It was as bad looking out the window as it was on the news.
We hung blankets in all the windows, like the London blackouts. As the only caucasians on our street, we were like sitting ducks, and we didn’t want to make it easy for anyone to find us there.
We called our parents to let them know we were okay. They hadn’t seen the news yet. Jeff’s mom turned on the t.v. and when she saw all the burning and looting and rioting she started to cry.
Suddenly Jeff -- still on the phone -- started speaking in hushed tones. “We have to be quiet now, there’s a group of them coming up our driveway,” he told his mom. We waited in silence, terrified. Fearing for our lives, I tiptoed into the bedroom. I prayed out loud, pleading: Heavenly Father, I really miss my mom, but I’m not ready to see her yet. Not like this. Please help us. Save us. Please...
I have no idea how long I was on my knees. But when I went back out to the dining room where Jeff was, he said, “The strangest thing happened. That group of rioters was about halfway down the driveway, making their way toward our house, and then all of the sudden they just turned around and left.”
I have no idea what God sent to deter them, but it must have been pretty ferocious. Because fearlessness and lawlessness and heartlessness were all running rampant that night. But we were protected. We woke up the next morning to an inch of soot and ash on our cars that looked strangely like snowfall. We were able to escape to Orange County for a few days (in an urgent but clandestine trip that felt like The Sound Of Music), and when we got back, it was like coming home to Beirut. There was rubble from burned-down buildings everywhere. National Guard army tanks maintained some semblance of order in the streets day and night.
Lawlessness, fearlessness, and heartlessness became “the new normal” in that area for quite awhile. Jeff’s car was egged and run off the road a couple of times. I used to hold my breath at red lights, hoping they’d turn green before I had to stop, making me an easy target. We received violent death threats from an intoxicated neighbor. And 911 failed to respond without us filing a complete police report. It was so frightening to think THIS had become the new normal.
Then, three months later, we poured out our lives’ savings and moved to Pasadena. There we were introduced to a completely NEW kind of normal. We lived without the constant roar of the police helicopter overhead. We lived where it was safe enough to play and eat outside without dodging gunfire. We had no drug-dealing ice cream truck that roamed the streets playing Strangers In The Night after dark. Here the streets were lined with gracious, older homes and a canopy of full-grown trees. Children walked safely to and from school. The collective focus of the community was one of restoration, of building up rather than tearing down. And this new Normal felt for all the world like Paradise.
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To read the other Writer's Group submissions, visit MamaBlogga.com or follow the links to the sites on this list:
- School Dazed! by Ursula
- The Times, They Are A Changin’ by The Diaper Diaries
- Two kids - a new normal by christy
- You learn something new every day by Lindsey
- The New Normal by Shannon (a.k.a. Believer in Balance)
- Give me your worst by Juggling Frogs
- Our New Normal by Candace Escobar
- A ‘new’ day in the life… by Deb - Mom of 3 Girls
- The New Normal by Misi
- Normality by tiff
- Am I the PB or the J? by Daisy
- Change: a constant of motherhood by Jordan (MamaBlogga)