Sunday, April 22, 2007


Ever since I saw this post on Pandagon, I've been thinking about just how aware I am of my surroundings. This morning, as I was preparing to go for a walk around my neighborhood, I realized just how much more mental preparation and attention it takes than when my husband does the same thing.

MrCircus goes running: He puts on running shorts and shoes, no shirt. Ipod is strapped to his arm, volume is turned up high to get him pumped and help his adrenaline flow. According to him, he only pays attention to what's going on around him about half the time. The rest of the time, his focus is entirely on himself and his running.

This is such an alien concept to me, the amount of freedom and the assumption that no one will bother you.

This is how my morning run/walk went:

I put on running shorts, shoes, and a red sports bra top. I debated on whether or not to put on a shirt, even though it was already 80 degrees at 10:30 in the morning (we live in Florida), and decided against it. I knew that anything that made me hotter would make me wimp out and cut short the distance I wanted to go.

Should I take keys? There's no need really, since MrCircus and CircusKid are home and the door would be unlocked, however, I could use them to stab someone if I needed to.

Cellphone? I'm only going around 2 miles, but you never know what could happen.

ID? See above.

Ipod? I put in my headphones, but keep the volume down really low so I can hear everything going on around me.

So I leave the house, and head out on to the sidewalk, into our nice planned community. I saw 4 other women walking/running and all of them are more covered than me. One is even wearing long exercise pants and long sleeves, despite the heat. We all look at every single car that goes by to see who is inside, it's not even a conscious thing at this point.

I reach the part of my walk that goes by a lake, and take a quick peek into the bushes to see if anyone is there, even though there are no woods or anything else around that obscures the view.

When I reached my halfway point, I turned around to head home and found myself behind a mom and her 2 kids, a daughter around 10 and a son around 8. The boy was on a scooter, and seemed impatient, so after a minute he zoomed ahead of everyone else. When he was about a block ahead of us, a light blue minivan came along and started driving slowly beside him. My brain started calculating if I could run to the van in time if I needed to, and I tried to make out the make and license plate number (impossible, even with my glasses on). Ends up it was the kid's father, but believe me, that wasn't my first instinct and my body and brain immediately prepared for the worst.

I'd like to think that I'm unique, way more paranoid than other women, but I just don't think it's true. MrCircus is a high school track coach and tells me that his female runners, 14 to 17, already know the drill: they run in groups, even though they're some of the fastest runners in the county and in fabulous shape; they overdress, despite the heat; they always have a cell phone; they watch who's around them and look for potential dangerous spots.

I think of myself at that age, and I can still remember the first time I was followed home from the park (I was 13) by grown men in a car, and how much that scared me. It's been twenty years and I can still remember how that last little bit of my childhood was ripped away, the idea that I could go somewhere as simple as the neighborhood park without being a target. When I go back to the old neighborhood, I still can still point out every single house I avoided because the guy that lived there was creepy, or the bushes were too high, or there was a tall wooden fence with a gate that was always ajar and someone could be hiding behind it.

Anyone else ?


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