Yes, it has been a long time, over 5 months since my last post. With all the changes taking place in my life, I simply did not take the time to write. More on that later. Right now, though, I need to vent about an incident that just occurred.
As many of you already know, my husband and I have moved away from Coronado, up the California coast to Ventura. We are still in the process of doing our best to settle in. That is also a story for another time. This morning, though, I was taking my walk. It was not even early because it was so cold last night, I had to wait until it warmed up a bit before leaving the house. Not that the house is warm! Anyway, I was walking one of my longer routes that takes me down Main Street and out to the bike path along the Ventura River Estuary and to the path along the ocean. As has always been my habit, when I see someone passing me from the opposite direction I say, “Good morning.” I think it is simply a polite thing to do. I am not looking to engage you in conversation. I am only acknowledging that I see you and that it is morning. After I made the turn onto the beach path, I said ‘good morning’ to a guy on a bicycle. He then proceeded to start yakking at me. I did not slow down or respond to him and I have no idea what he even said, nor did I care. Little did I know that he followed me. Didn’t know it until I went to cross the street to go up and over the 101. I wasn’t scared, but I was pissed.
He then continued to follow me at a distance. I did not turn around because I didn’t want him to know that I knew he was back there. After a few blocks I was able to look back when I crossed another street. My main concern was that he not know where I live, so I started zig zagging on blocks. I ran when he was unable to see me to put even more space between us. I eventually wound my way around to my house and, again, made sure he was not able to see where I live before crossing the street and going up the driveway.
I came in the house and told my husband what had happened. And now I’m telling all of you. My questions are: Which part of I-am-completely-ignoring-you-and-anything-you- have-to-say-to-me do you not understand? Why do you think it is okay to follow someone who has clearly NOT engaged with you in any way other than to be polite and say good morning? What gives men (I know this is a huge generalization here, but my experience has been it is men and not women) the ‘right’ to harass someone who is clearly not interested? Do I have to be a bitch in order to get my intent across? Now, given my history, this is an even bigger deal than it might otherwise be.
Part of the reason we left Coronado was that I continue to not feel completely safe. I do understand that it wasn’t Coronado who attacked me, and I was able to go back to loving living there again. And yet, there is still a part of me that was hoping a new place might, just might, allow me to feel safe like I did pre-sexual assault.
I am not saying that the guy this morning was anything other than a normal person, BUT I wanted nothing to do with him and he was ignoring this. Is it kinder to tell someone to ‘fuck off and leave me alone?’ Okay, maybe not in those words, but why should I have to specifically spell it out? I have been accused of being a stuck-up snob because I don’t speak to people, and yet when I do, I am followed. I have also been told that I seem to have a shield around me and a look on my face when I am walking that says, ‘don’t fuck with me.’ Most of the time this works at keeping unwanted attention away, not always though.
So, is my only recourse to not speak to anyone ever when I am out walking? Is it okay to say good morning to women but not men? I seem ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ in this situation.