I was waiting to walk across an intersection. The night was cool but not cold. I was headed to the grocery store. I felt the anger radiating off of his body. I knew what to do. Don’t look him in the eye! Breathe. I prayed into my phone. He got louder, “B#$h, you f$%$g b#$h. Stop talking into your G#d D$#n phone!” He walked towards me. I had my hood on. I didn’t look at him. I didn’t face him. I walked around him. No eye contact. He tripped over the curb. He fell on the ground. He was definitely drunk. He stood up.
I moved further away. I didn’t look at him. I didn’t look at the ground. I breathed slowly. I continued praying into my phone. The rage covered him. He started to walk towards me again. Fast but sloppy. I knew not to engage. Do not engage! Look for another way! He was my height. Look for another way. Don’t take a chance. The crosswalk towards the other side of the street was still orange! One more second left! I ran! Safe! He stared at me as we both walked across the street on opposite sides of the road. I looked back. I still had to go to the grocery store. I wondered if he was headed to the grocery store too. That would be fun.
I wonder what his mother was like or his father. It would be no question that he had been hurt. Now he does the same. Hurt people hurt people. Thats what Sharon always says. Hurt people hurt people.
My eyes watered.
I wiped away tears as I walked into the grocery store. A bucket of anxiety filled my chest. I wanted to cry. I needed to buy breakfast. I hated men again. An older man looked at me in passing and smiled. I wondered who he was. I wondered about his secrets. I wondered about the stories no one will ever know. Cute and old doesn’t mean not gross or evil. They say don’t judge. Lord knows I try.
Tears filled up but didn’t fall this time. My mind on auto-pilot. A frustrated child began to speak within. Her anger visible. Her feelings raw. Her, a me in me:
“I just want someone to hold me, to tell me they are so sorry for the way these men have behaved, to tell me that this isn’t how its supposed to be. I wish there was a man who was trustworthy. Where have all the good men gone? But I am alone and I am okay. I am okay. I am okay. I just wish it didn’t always have to be this way. But I am okay and the man who would hold me would also control me. The man who would hold me would put me in his own cell. No, I am okay and God is here. I am protected. Thank you God! Thank you God! Thank you God! That man’s anger. I am so sick of this. I won’t say its me. I won’t say its something about me anymore! Maybe there is something about me maybe there isn’t. I won’t think like that anymore. I am okay (sigh).”
As I was leaving the bread aisle a sun-burned man with a huge belly, the shortest shorts, and the longest legs walked around the corner. I cracked up. And the world was good again.