Growing up, we always lived in suburban, middle-class, outskirts of small cities. We pretty much lived in planned neighborhoods, my friends and I running around all through the streets, rollerskating, bike-riding, softball playing. In one city we lived in there was a woman who lived up the street from me who gave out candy to all the kids on the block. We were allowed one piece a week, and sometimes we would color pictures for her to thank her. They hung all over her walls. We always looked forward to Easter, because that was when the Cadbury eggs came out - they were the best! (Though to this day I still don't understand why a bunny would lay eggs.) In Birmingham, where I spent my high school and college years, we lived in less of a neighborhood, on a small street with only a couple houses on the block. There was a golden retriever across the street that watched out for us and sat on our porch on a regular basis. We never locked the door to our house (I'm not really sure why I had a key), and I remember leaving the keys to my unlocked car sitting in the passenger seat in our driveway on a regular basis (that way, they didn't get lost). Birmingham is also the kind of place where everyone you pass on the street says hello and asks how you are doing. You make conversation with people you stand in line with, and usually find that you know people in common. Things move slower, but people are friendly and nice, and just don't care if it takes an extra few minutes at the expense of wishing someone well. So, I am not used to the atmosphere of suspicion that I am cautioned to have here in New York. I hate being told I am not allowed to walk by myself at night. I despise feeling scared that someone will steal my purse, or unexpectedly attack me, or just be rude. I have had no bad experiences thus far - in general I find that if you are friendly other people will be also, but I have to admit that my guard is up a bit, just because of all the warnings I have received and stories I have heard. And I really regret it when people tell me I should be more careful with revealing details of my life to others in case someone would want to use it against me. I know it is a bit naive to close my ears and eyes to the things that go on, but I want to. When I hear of the atrocities that happen around the world - I don't want to know about them. I want to help, but I don't want to know that they happen. It is a catch-22, of course, because I don't want to be ignorant and closed off to reality, but I feel it chips away at my idealism bit by bit when I hear things I would not have ever imagined a human being could conceive of. Though I have quite a bit of idealism left, and I don't think it will ever completely disappear, I don't think I would ever let it. I guess I choose my naivete purposefully, but the truth is, I feel lucky that I have it to begin with. I know that I had many things growing up that others don't have, and that feeling of security is chief among them. I am fortunate that I have managed to hold onto it, because I don't want to even think about what experiences it would have taken to rid me of it. So for now, I am happy to be naive, and I hope that my trusting spirit is never completely broken.