Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Big Scare

Last night was just one emotional confrontation after another, all adding up to me being even more excited about my move than ever before.

First of all, after work, I was walking to the Trader Joe's a mile away. Why, you ask, was I walking a mile away to load up on apples and artichokes, only to carry all that produce a mile back to the metro station, squash it under my subway seat, and then lug it another mile home? Because there aren't any grocery stores near my house, so this is actually the easiest way to buy food.

Note: The place I'm moving to has a grocery store across the street, and is also 1 minute away from the metro stop.

On my way to the Trader Joe's I was accosted by a girl in a blue Planned P-hood t-shirt. These people have been haunting the thoroughfares of DC like dementors haunt Azkaban (see what I did there?). My friends and I keep running into them, all pushy with their clipboards, wanting us to donate money or sign their petition or whatever it is those people want. *shudder* I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but every time I run into them, I freak out. This time was no different. The girl started talking to me, I looked at her shirt, and all my flight-or-fight instincts kicked in. The blood rushed to my head and I had to will myself not to start trembling. I don't know why I react that way but I think it's my internal "mama bear" instincts - the way I see it, these people are hurting and attacking innocent babies, and I find it difficult to respond to them calmly.

Knowing this about myself, I made a special effort yesterday. As nicely as I could, I told the girl that I'm pro-life. "Well actually only 3% of what we do is abortions," she said. As I know this to be a blatant falsehood (best explained in Abby J's excellent new book), I politely told her that I know that's not true, but that it's not her fault "because I'm sure you don't even know what's going on at the upper levels of the organization." This may not have been the best thing to say, in retrospect, since it implied that she didn't know what she was doing (of course I hope she didn't). Anyway, I told her to have a nice day and then I betook myself into the Trader Joe's, feeling shaken and slightly threatened after the encounter.

Groceries, walk, phone call to my sister, train ride home all followed in quick succession. By the time I got off at the Forest Glen Metro station, I was feeling better. Hoisting my brown shopping bag in one arm and my purse in the other, I set off for the mile-long walk home. I had miscalculated the timing of my return and it was already growing dark out - some of you may know that nothing freaks me out more than walking home by myself at night. I think it's because my mother and both my grandmothers take every opportunity to tell me horror stories about girls getting "taken," in a well-meant campaign to get me to be more safety-conscious. Little do they know how well their efforts have succeeded. Last night, though, I wasn't too worried. It was twilight and the roads were still very visible. The path was familiar and the neighborhood is a safe one.

Normally when I walk home at night, I'm a vigilant little ball of nerves, looking over my shoulder and around the corner with every step. Last night, though, my mind was busy wrestling with a perplexing dilemma that's been troubling me. I was lost in thought, occupied in another realm of consciousness. That's why I didn't notice him coming toward me until he said, in a strange high-pitched voice, "Hello."

I stopped dead in my tracks. I was just approaching the tiny church at the top of the hill when this man appeared out of the bushes - out of nowhere. He wore pulled-up tube socks and looked pretty creepy to me. Maybe he'll just keep walking and move on, I thought. But as I stood there in a panic, gripping my bag of groceries, he veered off his side of the road and began walking right toward me.

Generations of my female ancestors' warnings reared up in my mind and flowed through my veins. This shopping bag is not going to make a good weapon, I realized with a sinking feeling of terror. Somewhere in my training I had learned that a good way to deter an attacker is to yell at him, so that's what I did - "Get away from me!" As he kept walking I screamed "Don't come close to me!" - and then I began running toward the neighboring house.

That was when I realized that I'd been a little, er, rash. He turned away, said "Sorry!", hung his head and walked in a different direction. Oh great. The only thing worse than potentially getting attacked on my way home was to imagine I was getting attacked and terrorize some poor innocent man going about his own business. I half-walked, half-ran down the hill and all the way to my own house, still in a paroxysm of nerves, and looking over my shoulder every minute to make sure the man wasn't following me after all. Bursting in the front door, I collapsed onto the sofa and poured out my tale of woe to my roommate Colleen and her boyfriend Matt. Colleen soothed me nicely and offered me a glass of wine. Matt said, "Is it ok if I laugh?" And I laughed too, eventually, and then I cooked some artichokes and we ate them with butter.

I know I'm really paranoid and I know I acted like a crazy person, but I am really really excited to move to a place that doesn't require a long, lonely, desolate walk home from the Metro every night.

I voiced this thought aloud, and Matt asked me where I'm moving to. "Virginia Square," I said between bites. "You're kidding," he said, and it turns out he lives in the building next door to me. If that's not a small world, I don't know what is. He promised to show me all the bars and restaurants in the area and I happily agreed. So now I'll have friends in my new neighborhood too. This move is just looking better and better.

UPDATE: Mother, stop telling people I got mugged, because I didn't. My roommate pointed out that I saw this man on the night that the local Knights of Columbus meet at the church, and it's actually highly likely that he was some poor innocent Knight going for a walk. He did not attack me, he did not bother me... and that's why this story is so hilarious. Because I'm paranoid. He also was not wearing the tube socks on his head, he was wearing them on this feet like a normal person, so please stop telling people that too.

Further update: Grandma, I'm really sorry my mom showed you this post and told you I almost got mugged. I didn't. The man was harmless and I was never in danger.

Last time I ever post about me being paranoid...

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I know it must have been a terrifying moment.... but I could not help from laughing!! I'm glad you're alive, Mrs. Gutsy Gal! :D