“Our strength is often composed as weakness we’re damned if we’re going to show.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin
I’m a woman walking in the woods.
It’s Coronavirus season, which means more people than usual. Families. Kids. Two women. A man on a bicycle with two kids in a wagon trailing behind, doing the parade wave each time they pass.
I meander to the edge of the woods, where I return to the cemetery before winding back into my neighborhood.
I see a lone man, tall, with jet-black hair. Air catches in my throat, a physical reaction. I try to relax when I see he has a big black dog. Maybe I’ve spoken to this man before.
I attempt assuring myself, but my body doesn’t know this. My eyes scan for people. My heart beats faster, as I realize there are none within earshot.
I am a woman alone. My body tenses as the man stops ahead of me. A wave of hesitation to push my feelings down rolls through me, as subtle as the wind.
Instinctively, I take off running, not fast, more like it’s what I’d been doing.
My body knows vulnerability because I’m a woman.
My heart pounds louder in my chest, even as my mind suggests foolishness.
The man smiles and says, “Thank you,” for making space on behalf of Coronavirus. I yell back, “You’re welcome!”
This. This thing happens for women. Often. We rarely mention it, even to ourselves. We smile and wave.