Sunday, September 6, 2009

walk through the fire

This is not the post I had intended to write. I had been planning to write about "Into the Wild" a movie that I thought was wonderful, but also scared me half to death. Instead real life came along and scared me half to death.
I can honestly say that up until this point I have never, in all my 28 years, found a reason to be scared walking alone. This past Thursday I especially had no reason to fear. It was bright bright Jerusalem morning. I was walking through a wooded area I know well, in a neighborhood that I spent many a childhood vacation exploring. Above me was a row of apartment buildings and the bustle of human life, below me-the main road and beyond it the parkland of the Valley of the Cross. I turned a sharp bend in the path to see a young man walking toward me. My first thought was that he didn't belong there- there was something in his manner and dress that was out of place. This was a path for joggers and dog walkers. He was dressed casually in a white t-shirt and aviator glasses, but he was too meticulous, too sterile for this little piece of nature. He stopped as I passed him and turned to ask me something. I couldn't hear him- the radio was blasting in my ears. I took out my earphones. He said, in Hebrew- how old are you? I must have smirked I was so taken aback. I put my earphones back in and continued walking. I walked a few steps and then glanced back, he too had walked a few steps away from me but then turned around and was hurrying towards me. I walked faster. I could hear the cars a few feet below me and see the the tops the edges of the apartment buildings through the trees above me, but at this point it was just me and him on the path and a long winding stretch of space until the street. He grabbed my arm when he reached me- not hard, but strong enough to make me recoil. Hey, he said, still in Hebrew, I asked you a question. I said, in English, I'm sorry I don't speak any Hebrew. I moved my feet. I kept on going forward. I asked you a question, his English was angry. I'm very busy, I replied. I'm on my way to work. He looked at me sharply then. He paused. He turned around and went the other way. I stumbled my way down to the street, glancing behind me all the while. There are numerous paths down through trees. Who knows if he would be waiting for me at the bottom? I almost asked the man I saw walking his dog, making his way up the path I had just come down to walk with me a few steps. I didn't. I kept to the main road. I called a friend. I made it to work.
Understand this- I am very small. Walking as I was, with a backpack on my back, I could easily be mistaken for a child. Understand this also-there is a school 1/8 of a mile down that path. And understand this-nothing happened. I was asked my age. My arm was grabbed-was touched. But in the space of a second I was a victim. I was ten feet in either direction from a road. I was a half a block from my adopted grandmother's apartment. I was isolated and I was completely vulnerable. There is so much unfairness in this-that with one question and one gesture I can become undone. I don't know what this guy was looking for, but I do know that he made me feel intensely unsafe. I was angry, at first, that someone could do that to me- that someone could take a childhood place and make it dangerous-that all my safety was just an illusion. By the time I got home later that day, I was scared. I jumped at every noise. I refused to be alone. I was told that leaving the house again was essential- like getting back on a horse after a fall. I've gotten back on quite a few horses in my lifetime. So on Friday I took a deep breath and got back on the horse.
I was considering going to the police- not for myself, but on the chance that he thought I was a girl, on the chance that its the schools he's interested in. But I'm honestly not sure of the reality of the situation. Maybe he was just slightly imbalanced. Maybe he was just really annoyed that I didn't answer his question. Who knows? All I know is that I was scared and I have never been before and that in and of itself is terrifying.

Thesis watch: 1.2 a chapter, footnotes and bibliography

Music Rec: Once more, with feeling- Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Cubbie Watch: I can't look.


Joseph said...

What a horrible experience! That guy does sound fishy; I think you should report to the police.
I've walked in these paths in the dark many times, even at 2 or 3 in the morning, when there are no dog-walkers. My own frightening experience was meeting the first time these strange animals which inhabit the place: half-way between peacocks and turkeys, they are harmless, though. I was amazed to see one cross the street though: intelligent animals...
But that's not the point; I hope you recover quickly from the feeling of fear.

Rogue Unicorn said...

Thanks Joseph.