I don't quite know how to begin this post. It's going to sound like whining, perhaps, and I don't want that. I want to actually say something, but what I want to say may get lost in the story. Well, here goes ...
We had left the theatre and were driving home. Joe decided to cruise up Yonge Street so he turned north to find a wall of traffic. It is said that Canada has two seasons, Winter and Construction, and sure enough on the first really wonderfully warm and sunny day, there was CONSTRUCTION. We didn't care. The windows were down, we were talking about the Opera which we had just seen at the movie theatre. A lazy summer day, in no rush.
Everyone around us had their windows down too and many had their radios blasting so that bits of music burst into the car, mostly an unwelcome intrusion. I suddenly noticed two guys in a muscle car, primarily because they did what they could to catch my attention. The one in the passenger seat took the 'Victory' fingers and pointed first and his eyes, then at mine. He wanted to make sure that I knew he was looking at me. Then he took his forefinger and touched under the point of his nose and pushed up in the universal 'piggy' gesture.
There was a break in traffic in our lane and we pulled ahead. I was relieved. But we slowed again and I could see that the other lane was easing and I simply knew they'd catch up and surely they did. As they pulled by both driver and passenger were looking at me with their noses pushed up. When they saw me, they laughed, hard.
Again, we pulled ahead. As the lanes had collapsed into one, I pointed to the lane on the right and asked Joe to head into it and then take the first turn off Yonge Street. I desperately didn't want to see them again. More accurately, I didn't want them to see me again. Joe asked why and I simply said, 'There's a couple of guys making fun of me in a car back there.' 'Oh,' was all Joe said and we turned off and headed up Church Street instead.
"Sometimes it takes a mammoth act of will not to be hurt by people," I said to Joe. 'I know,' he said. And we were done with it. He's seen it thousands of times before, I've experienced it even more. There was no need for talking. And I did let it go. We came home, chatted with people in the lobby, made dinner, called friends on the phone, did what we normally did. It was all but forgotten.
This morning in bed thinking about a blog for the day, I remembered the two guys in the car. I remembered the mammoth act of will. That people can be cruel is of no great surprise. Learning how to 'be different' in a world where people can torment difference is an amazing skill. I once knew a large woman who simply stopped going out. She just stopped. She was tired of it. I once knew a man with Down Syndrome who simply stopped going out. He had grown tired of it.
I do not wish to give up my right to access the world. I do not wish anyone to remove themselves from public view because of how the public views them. It is of no comfort to think that, as I was out several times yesterday, that hundreds of people did not stare at me, that hundreds did not make piggy faces. The benign kindness of strangers does not and can not make up for the targetted cruelty of others. I had to go somewhere deep in myself, I had to go to that place where I store up self esteem and self worth and make a withdrawl. I had to hold on to my own sense of value, my own sense of who I am, my own conviction of worth.
How others cope, I do not know. Me, I have to hold me and cradle me. Me, I have to nurse my own wounds. Joe knows that his comfort only makes the situation worse, because though it isn't what it seems, it seems like pity. No, it must come from me. I hereby thank every single person who has given me the store of self worth that I keep in reserve. All those who have contributed to my sense of self and my sense of worth and purpose, I thank you. Deeply.
Because I needed what you gave me, and if I didn't have it, I tell you truthfully ... I'd be in danger of deciding never, ever to go out again.