Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sometimes it Sucks

At this point, it seems like it might have been an overreaction. But this morning I ended up cutting my walk short. I live in a small self-contained neighborhood. You only drive into it if you live there, are visiting someone there, or have something to deliver. That makes it nice to walk in because in the wee hours of the morning I just about never encounter a car.

But this morning I did. It came down the road I was walking down from the main street. I gave it a wide berth. Now I’m already on alert because it came down the street from the main road, but then this car slows way down towards the other end of the street and just creeps around the corner.

At this point, I’m not taking any chances, I hoof it as quick as I can straight home altering my normal walking route.

Now I can imagine some folks reading this might say – what the heck? What was the problem? Well I’ve learned from experience, being a woman alone you have to be careful, you have to think about things and avoid stuff that guys never have to worry about.

There are many small incidents I could go over, but two stand out for me because of the impact they had on me.

The first one was when I was back in the military. I was alone in an office with a guy, someone I knew well. In fact in the past we’d had a relationship, but he had broken it off. That was long since done, and I was involved with someone else. So I had brought over some documents and I was alone in this office with him, and he grabbed me. He locked his arm around my neck and pulled me to him, and I was astounded by his strength. I tried to pull away from him and it was impossible.

He’s saying stuff to me that I won’t go over here, but it was freaking me out – I knew I was in trouble. The oddest thing was that I knew I should scream, yell something, but I had this overwhelming urge to not cause a problem. I’m sure that’s some social wiring thing or something. So I just started babbling, said I had to go in all kinds of ways, and eventually he let me go and I rushed out of there. I was lucky.

Then a few years later in college, I lived about 7 miles out in the country from the campus. I took great joy in riding into school between the farms and such early in the morning. I can’t describe how beautiful it was, it was just a wonderful way to start my school day.

But then one morning as I was riding along a section of this isolated route, someone pulled up next to me in a car and started saying stuff and making noises at me. It scared the crap out of me, here we were in the middle of nowhere, if this guy decided to do something I’d be toast! I rode as fast as I could with him repeatedly coming close to me with his car until I found a house and pulled into the driveway. I turned to face him and he drove his car backwards down to the previous intersection and sped away. I never rode my bike to school again.

So those incidents, and there were other smaller ones too, taught me that I, as a woman, have to take care about what circumstances I put myself in. Even for my early morning walk in my neighborhood I am careful to not walk all the way out to the main road so that I’m not seen by people driving on the main road.

So most of the time, I’m happy with my life, I love who I am, I’m optimistic and try to think the best of others. For long stretches of time I can go about my morning walks and other activities and just enjoy myself. But sometimes it’s brought home to me that there are some things I have to be extra careful about just because I happen to be a woman. And when that happens it just sucks.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Wisdom of Youth

As I was working in the kitchen on something I could hear my two younger sons (11 and 9) discussing the problem of a video game that was broken. A few months ago their Super Smash Bros. Brawl got scratched in such a way that it now no longer works, and I'm waiting for them to save up enough money to replace it.

So the younger one says "That was a really fun game, it's too bad it's broken." And the older one replies "Yeah, it's just like they say: 'You never know what you have until it's gone.'"

The discussion continued, but at this point I'm just trying not to laugh out loud. It's moments like these I wish I could wrap up and give back to them when they're grown and have kids of their own.