Things have been exacerbating my anxiety in the last day - no wonder I couldn't sleep last night. Yesterday I went for a walk around here in late afternoon. It was beautiful out, sun brilliant, air cold & crisp, I had a spring in my step, camera in my pocket, weights in my hand. I turned down a road that I go down quite often, on the occasional days that I walk here. The road has a scattering of houses on either side, usually no one's at home during the week. I'm used to one of the houses where a white dog barks at me through closed windows. Today as I headed down the meandering road, sun in my eyes, I could dimly make out that there was a guy in the front yard, occupied with some labor or other. As I neared he abandoned whatever he was doing and started to come towards me. It was really quite aggressive. He invaded my space. He was coming straight at me and I felt chilled also because I could not see his features at all, the sun was so strong. Yet clearly he had observed me and had chosen his precise moment. There were several seconds when I was coming towards him and he was striding towards me, and I felt frightened. But what could I do - run? I could only keep walking. Then, in the angled blazing sun, his features completely obscured (I could never possibly pick him out in a lineup, all I can say is white, middle-aged) he stepped in front of me, no more than a foot or two away and said hello, and I warily said hello. He could have touched or grabbed me, he was that close. I kept walking and he skirted to his mailbox on the other side of the road, made a show of the pretext. I imagined that he's lived there for a long time and that he was aware that the sun was in my eyes and that I couldn't see him. That's what predators are like. Nothing "happened", I kept going, didn't look back, and within a few dozen yards, came within sight of another house where a woman was raking leaves in her front yard. I was safe, it was a normal sunny afternoon. I don't know that I'll altogether avoid going down that road again - but maybe I'll do it at times of day, or in weather, where my vision isn't compromised. Funny though, experiencing all the adrenalin alarm bells going off in my body, sensing instantly that something isn't right with that guy. I thought, this is how it happens, no girl or woman in such a situation ever expects to be raped and murdered.
This time I've written it down, that feeling of adrenalin freeze. It's happened to me once before. I happened to be there and observed the calculating mechanistic gaze of the neatly dressed man (crisp oxford shirt, pressed dockers) as he surveyed the plaza. I wondered what he was looking at, methodically scanning the scene, and I followed his gaze, saw all the people enjoying a beautiful June (I think) lunch time hour, milling about, crossing the white paved plaza, enjoying the fountain with the strange overscale round dark pounded iron sculpture. He stood no more than a few feet in front of me and scanned the scene, only barely perceptibly moving his body or head, and I was in the near-distance observing him and his gaze reached me (as I had braced myself knowing it would) and went right past or through me as though I wasn't even there and I realized with a sense of unique, absolute horror that the fact of me standing there hadn't registered on him, he hadn't seen me at all, as though I simply didn't exist. And there I was, sentient, watching him, observing and apprehending his utter machine coldness. (I was safe - broad daylight - and yet felt endangered in the sense that - if he were to know that I know... that could not be good for me.) I slipped away, a few simple, unobtrusive steps away from his line of sight, all the world, the brilliant day, the lunchtime rush, the people streaming about - all oblivious. I returned to the office, possibly mentioned my disturbing experience to a boss, Jane, complete asshole so never mind, and that evening, over wine, among flowering planters on the terrace overlooking the garden, recounted my experience, which had quite disturbed me, to D. But I never wrote it up, not at the time anyway, even though I felt it to be important, and felt that I should. But the moment slipped away. I wasn't in the habit, then, of writing things down. When 9/11 happened, some period of time - a few years - later - I felt that I had, in fact, seen something...
Today I walked in the park and never got the creeps, not once. I have had not one but two faceless lovers on my blog - from my point of view anyway, it seems they know full well who I am and what I look like - but never once the creeps. I'm half in love with half a dozen men, they all merge and meld into one Big Love. But never once, online, the creeps, only love, but it felt different as I walked down in my full physical presence in dazzling sun on that meandering road and he, faceless, came too close. That has never happened to me at the park, either, it's a regular ballet of dogwalking politeness.
Someday I would like a face to go with all of my freeflowing love - but - the face of - if he too so wishes - my choosing.