Where the Light Once Was
It's past nine o'clock at night, and the sun is well down. I am walking through the neighborhood, wrapped in my light fleece, letting my mind think what it will. The weight of a knife is heavy in my right hand, clutched inside my pocket, because it makes my husband feel better for me to carry it when I walk alone. I don't think I need it (in fact I suspect that carrying it makes me more afraid) but I do wish there was more light. I would feel safer with more light. There are street lights, yes (when they don't switch off at my approach) but I cannot help but notice there is a profound lack of porch lights. The city is doing its part, but not the people.
Why? I wonder, passing by house after house like so many dark, empty faces staring right through me, refusing to see anyone or anything. It's frightening because it feels so closed off, like there's nowhere to run if the monsters come. Don't come here- there is no safety for you here, no succor. Keep running until they run you into the ground, because we will not see you in the darkness, we will not hear your screams.
Why? I wonder again, increasing my pace. Why on earth would anyone not turn their light on at night? Don't they know how much friendlier it makes the neighborhood? How much more welcoming? Or (this being a less economically-advantaged area) are they just past hoping for protection?
I see my house in the distance- my porch light is on, a warm, welcoming glow in the suddenly menacing night. It will stay on all night, keeping vigil against the monsters in my mind.
The next day I turn to social media, asking why or why not people keep their porch light on all night. The answers are many, and varied:
-No, because moths and light pollution.
-Yes, because we have had a lot of break-ins in our neighborhood and the police said it was so dark and easy because no one kept their porch lights on.
-Yes because our door is hidden by bushes and I don't like forgetting to turn it on and coming home in the dark.
-I think it's a waste personally but if it makes you feel safer just put an energy efficient bulb in it and leave it on.
-Yes, because I have unresolved issues of being a "Motel 6".
- No, because the light burned out and it's impossible to reach without risking my life
-We leave ours on all the time because we have a light sensor on it, so it comes on when it's dark enough. It's an energy-efficient bulb.
-Yes, everyone on our street does. We haven't had any problems, that I'm aware of. I think it not only can be a deterrent, but it looks nice.
-No, cost and there is a street light across the street and it does a great job.
-Only turn it on if I'm going to be late coming home or expecting someone after dark. We have annoying dogs to deter break ins.
- I don't. I'm in the burbs with street lights so the only time I turn it on is when I'm expecting someone. Also don't want to attract zombies.
-I don't really see the point in leaving them on, sometimes papa does sometimes he doesn't. I only leave the lights on if I know I'm leaving and wont get back until its dark
-Yes...half out of safety and half out of the fact that driving through a neighborhood with no porch lights on doesn't feel very welcoming
-Yes. LED bulbs plus solar panels makes it a no-brainer
-My parents leave it on for me when I work late, but I turn it off when I come in
-I have mine on a timer that goes on at dusk and shuts off at dawn. It's peace of mind more than anything else.
-If I have my way, yes. My husband in a penny-pincher and turns it off when he gets home. But I turn it on again when I let the cat in for the night.
-Yes! Makes me feel safer. I use energy efficient bulbs
-Yes, some people have their cars messed with, but we have had no problems with our light on. Also when I walk in the evening I enjoy it much more with lights on, otherwise the whole neighborhood is so dark. I don't have a dog to walk with.
-I'm all about keeping it on all night or having a motion detector. Because safety. As much my own when walking in unexpectedly late than anything. Also. I just feel a porch light off at night says, "Oh yeah. I'm definitely in bed now."
-I do when: 1) I expect someone to come over, and then forget to turn it off after they leave 2) I'm home alone
-Yes, for safety. There have been some sketchy things by us.
-Yes, because we're the only house in the cul-de-sac that does. And, well it's creepy out there if we don't! Plus, it sends an unsaid warning that yes, there are people in this house . . . after having a break in, I'll never leave the lights off again.
It gives me food for thought.
(But most importantly, how can I make a story about porch lights and what they protect us from?)