The noise woke us both up from a deep dreamless sleep.
The echo reverberated around our apartment, followed by an eerie silence.
I wriggled a little further down into my pillows, muttering to H1 as I did so.
"Gunshot or car?"
I felt him shrug*, then slowly he heaved himself up and over to the window. A crack of light fell across the bed as the curtains parted slightly, then darkness encompassed me again as he returned. He spoke.
"Don't know. Car, I guess. Nothing's happening outside."
I nodded, already mostly asleep again. Conversation was done for the night. Nothing further disturbed us.
And such is life in New York. Now, anyway. There definitely was once a time when I wouldn't have been nearly so blase about such a noise. Less than three months ago, actually. When I was was a newbie, nervous and on edge almost all the time. always conscious of what was happening around me.
I really was. Much fun of me was made by H1, for the way I ensured my bag was always zipped and held close to my side, for the way I couldn't relax if I couldn't see or feel it when in restaurants and cafes, for the constant slight jumpiness I exhibited. I don't condemn him for this - in fact, I agree. Now. Back then I thought I was being completely reasonable.
No, now I have chilled out an almost obscene amount. While I don't quite swing my bag around my head, or throw the contents into the street for display, or gallivant my way down dodgy alleys wearing all my jewellery, it's not a far-off thing. I can eat my dinner without looping my ankle through my bag strap, and when there is a distinctly gun-like sound outside my apartment at night, I barely stir.
It's a natural progression. It's not because I've heard so many gunshots** I've become immune. Quite the opposite. It's because nothing has happened. Nothing bad, at all.
And yes, it's only been three months, but hey, it's New York. It has a well-publicised crime rate, which also happens to be fairly high (to my unaccustomed eyes, used to the quiet, unassuming streets of Torbay and Fulham). There was a reason I was nervous.
I've just realised I don't have to be. I don't remember ever being more conscious of safety when new to London, but I'm sure I must have been, at least until I realised the glaring truth that has also revealed itself in New York - when you're in a busy city, you're pretty much constantly surrounded by other people, and that means that you're probably really quite safe. It's probably even safer here than in London, in fact, if only because Londoners are quite likely to consider someone being mugged to be none of their business. In New York, everything's everyone's business. If I were ever mugged in public, I would be inclined to feel sorrier for the mugger.
Not that that's going to happen. Not only because it would have to be a sensationally stupid mugger (I'm sure they exist) but because most people, when it comes down to it, are good, and most of the time, everyone is perfectly safe. On the busy streets, in crowded restaurants, in bed.
It's a reassuring thought.
*If you are my grandmother, I felt him shrug from his room. Away from my room. Far, far away.
**I truly haven't, despite living in the States, all parents who may be reading - can't emphasise that enough.