Comfortable Distance: Personal Space, Rape Culture and a Symbolic Doppelgänger

 

I took a walk in the park today, there are sprawling mounds that used to be a landfill right by the lake. Today is so sunny, beautiful breeze, blissful.

I was alone, my floral maxi dress blowing around (and I wasn’t wearing underwear). There was an older man walking behind me and another man walking in front. Three politely spaced humans strolling on the same path. Respect during a time where rape culture reigns supreme. A girl alone should be afraid of meeting a man on a path. Right?

We all kept the same pace. When we are farther away from another person (especially a stranger), we feel a degree of safety from them. There are social rules about personal space and proximity to others. A distant person cannot just attack us out of the blue. If we feel threatened there is time to run or fight. We contemplate ways to escape or think about how loud we can yell, will anyone hear? Will they care? Would FIRE work better than RAPE?!

As a woman I know I am slightly less intimidating to someone. A large man walking behind you will raise a larger red flag. You assume his intentions are to rob and rape you, leaving you fighting for life in an ally. It’s just stereotypes, but we are programmed to be afraid.

It does happen. People get robbed and raped every 10 minutes. Thinking about this makes people get irrational, this is when their racist and sexist nature comes to a head. I picture women clutching their purses in fear. My mom was mugged several times.

That’s why I wear a fanny pack, so I can be slightly more fearless. I don’t judge people by their looks either. The most unassuming person can be a huge scumbag with a gun. I know plenty of giant men who are sweethearts that wouldn’t hurt a fly too.

Instinct tells me to be on guard, the unknown is scary, but I don’t have to run for the hills either. I need to climb them and rise above. I always say hello to everyone I encounter and make eye contact. Ensuring them that “I see you” and I will remember you in a lineup. I remember everything, small minute details forgotten by time’s mistress.

The man in front had a stride that I recall, his hair flowing in the breeze like a god. I am glad I saw his face because he looked just like someone I used to love. Symbolic of all that I am trying to move past, he was a hill ahead of me. “You” were in my thoughts again, as usual. This time I didn’t start it.

I waited on my hill so he could have his time as the king of the mountain (I mean, that’s why I was there).

I couldn’t face him-the man that looked a lot like you from behind. I wish it was you and that we were on the same hill. I stand here on my own hill with my hands in the air, standing on the rocks, alone.

My heart is like my whiskey, strong, and also on the rocks. You are a siren, coaxing me to my demise. I came here to be free of all worry and am faced with an uncanny doppelgänger. I wonder why fate plays such tricks on us?

The other man wearing a fedora took a different path, into the dark serenity of the woods and away from the gleaming hills. Down that way is some graffiti I did the day Prince died. Now I stand here, watching the symphony of grass blades, deer paths and discarded Natty Ice cans. A moving painting.

Am I the only one who writes poetry in my head while I meander through luxurious fields? It looks like an acid flashback, but more subtle. I like to be high in high places, looking down at the world below. I am not afraid of heights as long as I am on something solid. I am more afraid of falling in love than a perilous drop into the unknown. If you survive, bones heal, but the heart never truly recovers from a break.

Symbolic-You abandoned the mound, finally, it was time for me to mosey away. Sunset was nearing, it is the summer solstice, longest day of the year. More time in the stunning brightness to contemplate all the things.

I made the climb to the top and it was glorious. I was finally king of the mountain. On top of the world, standing on the rocks with arms stretched to the sky, wind blowing my hair and dress, I felt in that moment I could live forever. Then I noticed someone standing on the other hill, waiting for me to be done too, so I moved on like all the others before me.

I wonder if I looked like someone he once loved?

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