Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vulnerabilities

I realized this evening, walking from class to the parking garage two and a half blocks away, that I still don't have a strong sense of safety. I'm not saying I was afraid of others on the streets, though that may have been the case when I was younger (and don't think I'd ever let you know about it). I felt unsafe because of the street itself, the cracks in the sidewalk, the lip of the curve, the flashing amber hand telling me the light would soon be changing, so I'd better hurry--and hurry, I can't.

For the first three quarters of my life so far, I was afraid, not of people on the street, but of men on the street, of what I knew they could do and feared they would do. I dealt with it by overcompensating, acting tough. I put myself in the position of choosing before being chosen, attacking before being attacked. It didn't always work so well, but short of withdrawing completely, it's all I knew how to do.

And then my youth faded. My body skipped the middle-aged phase, donned only the disguise of middle age, while on the inside, just below the surface, the crone took the place of the maiden. Bones brittle, tendons taut, muscles fissured, joints swollen and slowly deforming. And I still won't let you know it, not if I can help it. I put a smile on the face others tell me doesn't look forty-ish (kind souls). I make a joke. I walk faster than my aches and fears and pains want me to, wait until I'm behind my own door so that I can strip off the costume, let the crone breathe and sigh and cry.

I think I understand now why distance is necessary.

Till later...