Dear Walking Group Women,
I see you, my siblings, and I ignore you. Namaste. Or Peace Be With You. Or May the Odds be Ever in Your Favour. Or whatever version of in-tune, en pointe (on point? On pointe? On-ee point-ee?), in-the-moment greeting du jour holds currency right now. And yes, I did roll my eyes at your Namaste, so heartily imbued with an affected spiritual significance that a humble ‘hello’ just doesn’t convey.
It’s not you, it’s me. I am not a morning person.
Or maybe I am, and by the time I’ve made beds, made lunches, emptied the dishwasher, put away any draining dishes, washed whatever’s in the sink, had my coffees and medication and vitamins, seen my family off to work and school and university, and finally gotten around to walking the dogs, it feels like half my day is already over. And there’s still a list of chores and commitments a mile long to go.
Okay, well, maybe it’s you too.
When you walk, four-abreast, spreading your knock-off-LuluLemon selves across the footpath, deep in conversation, oblivious to anyone not part of your clique, please know that I am not going to step off the path for you. I will not apologise for taking up space and I will not make myself smaller. Not even for you. Read my t-shirt.
Instead, I’ll square off, lean slightly forward with my right shoulder leading, and barrel forward as if you do not exist — the way my sister does when she walks down the main street of the city through grey-suited clouds of businessmen. My mouth will be a straight line, lips sucked in and almost invisible — the way my mother’s mouth sits as she thinks of all the people whose bad behaviour she’s tolerated. My eyes will stare through you as if you were no more than the figments of my imagination that always accompany me, the wisps of whispering wraiths of past conversations I’ve edited and polished to more favourable outcomes a hundred times in my head. My hands will bunch into tightly clenched fists — the way they have done in defence and frustration a thousand thousand times over.
I will no longer tolerate careless disregard from strangers. I will no longer endure the thoughtless erasure of my existence. I have no grace left to offer those who won’t even acknowledge the air I displace.
I’m done with making myself small and quiet and agreeable. I’m done with conforming to tropes of acquiescence and demureness. I’m done apologising for occupying space, for requiring respect, for demanding decency. And I’m doing it before I get angry or despondent.
Brace yourselves, siblings. I’m barrelling through and I’m not looking back.