I grew up surrounded by fences. My first fences were nine feet tall and ringed with coils of thorny barbed wire. This was the perimeter of my 'town'. There was only one way in or out ... guard stations stocked with 24 hour military police saluting those who belonged and ushering away any unwanted intruders.

I still remember watching from the playground as cars zoomed past us on the other side of that precious fence.

In my neighborhood, there was no crime. No rapists, no thieves scuttling through your window in the middle of the night, no car alarms going off to wake you with a start. Sometimes, if you listened very closely, you could hear the far off cry of an ambulance racing through the streets on the other side of our fences. There was never any reason for fear where we were, though. Our fences protected us.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I went on midnight strolls through dark silent streets. The only sound was that of our footfalls and the random passing of a police vehicle or two. We'd slip back home, greeted by unworried parents, before falling asleep in rooms that mirrored each other.

On my street, every house was a twin. The exterior walls were carefully painted in tan with dark brown trim. Large picture windows opened into our homes, displaying each perfect snowglobe family for all to see. There were no options, there was no one that altered this trend. Each lawn was manicured perfectly, pristine green lawns sprawling out as far as the eye could see. Weekly inspections acted as catalysts to the care each family took with their landscaping. Sprinkler systems rose and fell at similar times, and each evening as the sun set, fathers rolled up the hoses as mothers cooked perfect dinners indoors. In my town, there were no divorces. Families were a unit of two parents and two children, and one dog.

My house was dull and without decoration. Eggshell white walls towered over oatmeal carpet. It was too cold in the summer and too hot in the winter. In my home, no one paid utility bills. We made up for the lackluster structure by filling our homes with conversational pieces. Material items to prove our worth, substance to fill the cracks. Neighbors all ‘ooohed’ and ‘ahhed’ at one another’s collection of trinkets from far off lands. Where we lived, variety really was the spice of life.

In our society, quietly tucked away behind our fences, we slept peacefully and knew that nothing could ever harm us. In my town, children played for hours in the streets, with parents that never knew where they were. In my neighborhood, mothers chatted as they draped linens over clotheslines. On my street, we left our cars unlocked and doors open. In my home, I hid in my room, listening as my parents bellowed at one another. In my room, I sank beneath the covers, telling my sister that one day it would all be all right. Beneath the covers, I prayed silently that one day I would feel safe behind my fences.

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