What I Think About When It’s Very Dark Out, And I’m Walking Home Alone, And I’m A Woman
As in, what weapons do I have with me right now and how will I use them, if I have to? The tip of this umbrella is sharp and could probably draw blood if applied correctly and the rest of the umbrella isn’t so bad itself; when it’s all closed and buttoned-up it’s just like a real weapon. I’m gripping it with both hands and holding it in front of my body, waist-high, horizontal, so that if someone were to come at me from the front I could raise it, push it up against their Adam’s apple and take their breath away. If someone were to come at me from behind, I could plunge into their groin or pierce into their foot, that sharp, pointed tip. This is not the way you typically see someone carrying a tall umbrella, they like to balance on it like it’s a walking stick. I carry it like a sword, like a weapon and on nights when there’s been no rain, I keep my longest, sharpest housekey cushioned between the index and middle finger, just in case I need to gauge someone’s eyes out. Just in case. Sometimes I think about the time a karate sensei came to teach my fourth grade class self-defense for one week, he mentioned that if you use the heel of your hand to push someone’s nose up and then back, into their skull, they could die — or maybe I saw that in a movie, or maybe my brother told me, but either way I’ve always known if I were put in the position to defend my life on a dark night when I’m walking home alone and I’m a woman, I’d like to try it out.
My weapons aren’t all metal and shine, though, and plus I know these kinds of weapons can be used against me. Words also seem like weapons that could be used against me, so I keep those for the page and not for inviting anyone to take notice of me when it’s dark outside and I’m walking home alone and I’m a woman. Other weapons: my shoulders, they’re squared and defensive and my elbows are pointed just-so, sharp as they get, they’re not as long as the umbrella but sometimes they’re all I’ve got. My face is a weapon, says things like don’t look at me and I don’t trust you and you will regret even thinking about it. This is why you won’t get that smile you asked for sir, it’s not just because I’m scared but because I want you to feel scared, too. I want you to know that, while you may be my alternate universe father boyfriend brother, right here and right now you’re a stranger dressed in shadows, a suspect. Maybe in different circumstances, your presence would comfort me, make me feel safe. But there are no maybes I’m willing to indulge in, not tonight or any other night. I have no reason to let my guard down, not when it’s very dark out and I’m walking home alone and I’m a woman.
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Try something today. Count how many times someone brings up some sort of mental illness in normal conversation. Add that number up and tell me it doesn’t strike you as kind of weird how many normal people walk around with the belief that there is something wrong with them.
She assumed it was jewelry. Every year he gets her a charm for her gold chain or a pair of dangly earrings.
Fall if you will, but rise you must.
You may lose what would have been the joy of the experience had you not been so focused on some fabricated idea or unrealistic expectation you had of how it was going to turn out.