Today, I did week 5 day 3 of couch-to-5K, which is jogging for 20 minutes (or 3.2 km). When I was about halfway, I turned at the corner into this little parking lot that opens onto the end of a field across from our community centre. There was an SUV parked there, young 20s-ish guy sitting there with the window open. I jogged past, and he gave me a really creepy once-over, with his hand over his mouth in the universal gesture for I'm-a-super-creep-who-sees-you-as-an-object. (It's sometimes used by handsome actor types when they're trying to be sultry-meets-bashful, you know, the Canadian Ryans - Gosling and Reynolds - they're masters of it. Now you have it in your mind? It was creepy.) I jogged across the parking lot and field, cut across the alley and open lot onto the road by the school, and back up to the community arteriole (not quite a main drag, but those that live in the community use it to avoid the traffic on the main drag, you know?) About two blocks down, I feel before I see the same SUV drive slowly up behind me. And then he paces me. Just driving next to me, looking out his window, waiting for me to acknowledge him. I sort of just looked at him, and he did a weird nod, and kept pacing me. I was really scared. And then he turned at the next intersection away from me. And I remained scared all the way home.
I think the adrenaline of fear is the only reason I made it all 20 minutes. And for the first time since we've lived here, I found the quiet peacefulness of our street ("Oh what a nice quiet street!") to be threatening. Too quiet. Too alone. I have never been more relieved, for reasons totally unrelated to how tired my legs might be, to walk into my garage. And lock the door behind me.
You know, when I saw him sitting at the opening of the parking lot, I should have jogged straight to Main Street, a block away, and jogged home the long way along it, the busiest road in the city. I should not have cut through the empty lot. I should have stayed on the side of the side street with houses, so I could easily run up to a yard or front door, should he have re-appeared, instead of running on the side with the school. I should have looked at his fucking license plate! I should have flipped him the bird, or asked if he needed directions. I should have taken my ipod off so I could hear what was going on around me. I should have stopped that women with the two big dogs and asked her to turn around, out of her way, and walk the rest of the way home with me. I should have, could have done so many things differently.
And now I'm left shaken, agitated. Worried about going jogging again, in this neighbourhood I've always felt is so safe. I run when it's light out. I don't take the same route every day (I do three days/one week along one route, and then switch it up.) I resent that I feel the need to make these precautions, because I'm a woman, because I'm a target. I resent it but do it anyway.
All before I even consider that this creepy guy exists in a world where my perfect, innocent children also exist. And then my head and my heart implode, and I have to stop thinking about this... sometimes, I hate this world.