Growing up in Chicago, I have always had the same sense that this is my city and I own these streets ("An Area of Darkness," December 21). Fortunately, I have not fallen prey to a violent mugging, but I have been the obsession of a stalker.
Everything changes. For quite a while, being near anyone who had the same physical characteristics as this person made me feel uncomfortable. I too felt the irrational increase of my heartbeat at the approach of someone who was totally harmless. Answering a ringing phone or looking through my mail became an act of courage.
It has affected my approach to dating and men ever since, and they are often suspicious of my tendency to guard certain information about myself until I get to know them better.
Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their surroundings, especially when one considers those surroundings home. To those who feel that assuredness, hold on to it. It is a fragile concept, and one you may not hold forever.