Tuesday, June 27, 2006

it's not me, it's you

Washington and I are totally in a fight right now and I don't know how it started.

I know why I'M mad. The events of the last ten days have certainly been cause enough to be mad. Even with the most amazingly supportive boss, friends and family, I've felt bruised and totally helpless.

You know that adorable swill I spouted about the Pinot Grigio and the French rap? Suffice it to say that what really happened that night was that I totally lost my shit on the corner of 14th and C Southeast. What possessed me to walk to that party by myself at 11:00 PM I can't quite pinpoint, but I think I had a justification resembling "they can't make me afraid of my own neighborhood. I won't let them." That, of course, is bollocks.

That night, I became the girl I swore I never would be. I became the girl who cringes when a strange man walks by her at night. He actually leered at me "heeeeeey, white girl, what you doin' all the way out here," as if I'd been pushed out of a plane and parachuted into enemy territory. He sauntered past and just ahead of me, walking too slowly and close to my path for my shredded comfort level.

Having never hyperventilated (to my knowledge), I can't identify the feeling-- but this was the closest I ever hope to come. I grabbed my cell phone from my purse, flipped it open and started jabbering to no one, hoping he'd think I was on the phone with someone very fierce and strong and very close by.

"Hi honey, I'm almost there... no I said I'm almost there... just a couple of blocks over... no, I'm almost there."

Did I mention I flunked Improv at theater camp?

He was still sloooowwwwly sauntering and I was dangerously close to a full-on freakout. The idea of stopping in the middle of the steamy, hostile block was awful, but not as awful as being at his heels, waiting for him to turn around. I stopped on the corner and called everyone I could think of, but people seemed to have other Saturday night plans besides comforting a terrified EJ.

Finally I did the unthinkable. I called my mother. I called her and asked her to talk to me, to tell me a story, until I could walk to this house and get behind walls and doors. And she somehow didn't yell at me for being so stupid, which any other time would have made me feel worse except I was too busy being scared of every raindrop. And so, from central Michigan, she walked me to that house.

I hate being that girl. I've been in this city for six years and have NEVER been that girl. I've never been scared of my own or anyone else's shadow. I like to think I haven't been too cavalier, though God knows I've made poor judgement calls and walked alone more than I should. But I have never been that white girl who is scared of her own "transitioning neighborhood." I did everything right! Look at all the valentines I've written to this neighborhood and this city. He didn't so anything bad or threatening besides leer, and I'm used to leering by now. Leering usually doesn't bother me.

But leering on a steamy street in Southeast, alone and in the middle of the night...

So yes, Washington and I are in a fight right now. And the apocalyptic rain is NOT helping. I've already showed emotion in public this weekend; could we please refrain from keeping the sky from sobbing along?

I think we need to take some time away from one another.

No, we're not splitting up. But we are definitely on a break.


I-66 said...

If it makes you feel any better, I won't even wander the streets of most areas of SE in the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Dearest EJ:

Perhaps wisdom dispensed by some of the greatest minds from the ages may provides some comfort:

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Nietzsche

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

On second thought . . . fuck it – what that asshole did to you is fucked up on so many levels (psychological, sociological, philosophical – all those darn liberal arts/pre-law major “-logicals,”) and part of what enrages and saddens is the recognition that this experience necessarily molds you and will stay with you, for better or worse, forever – and this fucking scumbag has no clue how he has hurt, haunted and scarred you.

Hang in there. We (your family, friends, and other compassionate members of humanity) need you to.


Lillian said...

It's okay--it sounds like you have good reason to be a little jumpy these days. Roll with it, and don't feel guilty about it. It's perfectly okay.

And if it makes you feel any better, I--without any good reason to be jumpy--once found myself kicked out of a cab, very much lost, and very much alone in the middle of Southeast one New Year's Eve. Did I keep my cool, and confidently stroll down the road? No. Did I think "okay, self, everything's gonna be fine"? No. Did I burst into tears and call my mother? Yes. Did I make her stay on the phone with me until I got to the party I was trying to find? Yes. Did I look like a complete tool? Hell yeah. You didn't even cry, so that puts you WAY ahead of me. :)

Take care of yourself, and know that there's some good karma being sent your way from the Middle East.