My very conscious walk home tonight…
It is 8.38pm and I’ve just arrived home from a full and busy day at work. Daylight savings is over now, so I was walking home from the tram stop in the dark, after stopping off for a beer and some dinner out – a treat for myself. I felt no threat whatsoever in the city (Melbourne) or on the tram. Getting off the tram, Jill Meagher’s murder came into my mind. She was on her way home, knew the neighbourhood, and had no reason to not feel safe. I love my new neighbourhood, but this was the first time I was walking through the quiet streets, in the dark, on my own. For some reason, a visceral repeated dream memory came to me – I don’t remember the circumstances, all I remember is that I try to scream, but no sound comes out. This is a recurring dream, and yes, it made me think of Jill.
It makes me think of my vulnerability. It made me think of the vulnerability that many people are feeling – the heightened consciousness, the possible threats, the mistrust of a stranger walking behind you, someone getting off at the same tram stop. I walk tough. I recognise that I have often done this in the past – the way I walk at night on my own is one with which I try to downplay my vulnerability, my female-ness, my ‘ugly tough walk’ I call it, that I feel is my defence.
We all have our own weapons, our own versions of ‘ugly tough walk’. Some people talk about holding their keys like a weapon, carrying sprays or alarms in their bags, or better yet, never walking alone at night. None of those are acceptable to me, or they would not necessarily make me feel safe.
What is my point here? I’m acknowledging, I’m empathising, I’m describing a feeling that I know many others express in their own ways. I’m paying heed to that vulnerability that many of us feel – whether venturing out of our ‘comfort zone’, or simply trying to live a life of choice and what freedom we can assert for ourselves. That the stories we hear about from others – or, like with Jill, survivors and investigators of such catastrophic events, matter, are heard, and are remembered. That we all have a duty and a role to play in reducing this need for ‘heightened awareness’ and feeling of vulnerability. Here’s to peace, it matters.