I worked late last night. The sun had already dipped below the horizon, and even the ribbons of twilight had twisted into charcoal gray shadows. I drive through the countryside, past full cornfields or soybean fields in the summer, stretches of empty farm fields in the winter.
As I drove along the deserted country road, I had the strangest urge to pull over to the side and just take a walk through an empty cornfield. Of course, I couldn’t because: a) I was wearing only dress shoes, b) it was only 32 degrees out, c) it was dark, turning to black dark.
But the desire made me think past the temporary roadblocks.
If all other circumstances were constant, i.e., warmer weather, gym shoes, a tad more light, I still would think twice about crossing the field. I would be afraid that someone would come along and — well, you can just imagine. I would clearly be at a disadvantage because I am: a) 5 ft. tall, b) 60+ years old, c) know nothing about self defense.
I know that sounds silly, and in some ways it is. But women have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to going off on their own. We are easily bullied, pushed around, beaten, and worse. We always find ourselves having to “prove” we are able to take care of ourselves.
We do take care of ourselves, of course. We travel by ourselves, drive by ourselves, go to restaurants by ourselves. But we don’t often wander through the woods or fields by ourselves. Not when there’s little or no light.
I find that very sad.
I think it’s unfortunate that so few have affected so many. It’s easy enough to bully women to begin with, but it’s worse when our own fears of adversity stop us from doing things we really want to do. It’s one thing to do things alone in a controlled environment, but take off to walk the beach or the woods totally alone — second thoughts. Always second thoughts.
I don’t mean to make this a sour grape thing — I have friends who don’t let petty things like crazies stop them from enjoying life. They are smart, sharp, and pay attention.
I supposed I’m easily spooked. I have a safe path through the patch of woods behind my house that leads to the back gate, and the whole area is wire fenced. Yet you won’t catch me walking that path in the dark. I don’t like that there may be things I can’t see just at the edge of sight. Same is true about empty country roads. Or endless cornfields.
To quote my favorite Mrs. Dudley in The Haunting:
I don’t stay after I set out the dinner, not after it begins to get dark. I leave before the dark. We live over in town, miles away. So there won’t be anyone around if you need help. We couldn’t hear you. In the night. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town. No one will come any nearer than that. In the night. In the dark.
Funny thing is — it’s not the spirits of the dead that frighten me. It’s the spirits of the living —