I was in the middle of the Nepal writing challenge where I gave myself the task… a spiritual task of writing every day and creating a practice for myself around being in the beautiful mountains of Nepal. I chose Nepal with great intention because Nepal to me symbolizes spirit, clarity, faith, religion, hope, perseverance and abundance. So the challenge was intended to give myself a gift and share it with my readers.
Around the end of the writing challenge there were several things that took my attention from my sacred writing space. Important happenings around black lives mattering, parishioners being assassinated, women being killed in prisons, a man shot in the face for not having a license and a young 16 year old girl being pinned on the floor the day of her birthday. Social media and news outlets went crazy with demonstrations. There were riots. A world filled with much pain.
So when the following incident happened to me I honestly did not want to share it. I did not want to post it publicly because I wanted to sit with it privately. The incident involved a young black boy or young man who it seems already had everything against him… society turned its back on him… a community that ignores the problems that haunt him… Unsure where his family is… politics… poverty… Worn visibly.
And so honestly I did not want to share what happened to me.
But in honoring my spiritual practice and in being honest with myself this is the last post in the Nepal writing series Day 60!
Who gets robbed on their first day back into the city after spending three months with spirit?
I wasn’t going to work today. My foot and heel have been in pain for quite some time. Actually it has been killing me for several weeks. But since it has been months I made my way through the city and headed for my job in the Bronx.
The Heights was hopping. I was craving quipes and pastelitos I was enjoying my snack on the bus when I noticed the intruder. I take my last bite. I start to get ready to get off at my stop. I put my reading away. I noticed this young man wearing baby blue looking at me. He looked down at my bag actually.
He was rocking a kango bucket cap, blue basketball shorts, black spandex bike pants underneath his shorts and a white towel around his neck and I noticed these details because he was just too damn close.
We don’t live in the kind of city where intruding on someone’s personal space is welcomed. I arrive to my stop. I gather my things. I catch a glimpse at him and left the bus. I said to myself, “damn he saw my IPad”. I immediately felt his intentions and in my mind even before stepping off the bus I just knew I was about to get robbed.
As I’m walking up the block I’m calculating my every course of action from the way I walked choosing to stay close to the curb ensuring that there would be no way for him to rob me without both of us causing a traffic accident to ensuring that there were plenty of people around. In my mind we would be brawling in the street. I kept walking on Grand Concourse in populated spaces. And you learn to think this way… on the defensive… when you come up in a society that constantly wants to violate you or threatens your security.
Then the block cleared. It was just him and I. My body got cold, I slowed down… steadied my pace.
I felt him on my back. I could feel his breath. He was five paces behind me. I stopped walking. My entire body froze and I began to pay very close attention to my surroundings. Where would I go?
I noticed to the right of me a barbershop. I continue to walk a little bit further. When I stopped he stopped.
He stopped next to me, looks me in the eyes and says, “Can I speak to you?”
I reply, “No! Keep it moving!”
He tried to speak again and again I told him to keep moving. He was going the same direction I was headed in. He took a right at the exact corner I was going to take.
This is when I turn around and walk into the barbershop. I asked the barber if I could sit there for a few moments. I told him that I was being followed by a man and that I felt he was about to rob me. He allowed me to stay as long as I needed to. Then the young man entered the barber shop and sat next to me.
When he sat next to me I thought, “Wow, is he serious?” What audacity! What nerve! I was furious. I couldn’t believe how he had invaded my space. He tried to seem casual and even asked the barber for haircut. When the barber said no, he asked to use the bathroom. Every request that he made the barber said no. Yet he wouldn’t leave. He did not want to leave my side.
The barber did not ask him to leave. He wanted to avoid a situation. This is when I texted my friend asking her to meet me. I wanted someone near me because I felt like I would have to fight this guy.
The barber waved me into another room and told me there was a second exit. My friend arrived and we left together. He was no longer behind me.
I didn’t see a man. I didn’t see a human. I didn’t see what was right in front of me. HE was a predator. I saw someone who could cause me harm. My instinct was to protect and defend myself at all cost. My mind jumped to worse case scenario and survival. Period!!! My safety was being threatened. When my friend arrived to walk with me we made haste… and once I felt safe I started crying. Then I thought of the young man, about all that I noticed and what the lesson in this moment was for me.
The man was hungry. He was an addict. He was young. A young black man. He was in pain. He wanted what I had because he needed his fix. He needed something and was not above taking something from a total stranger to have it. I was his prey. I was his answer. I was his salvation. I won’t say I wasn’t afraid. I’d be lying. I will say I am grateful. I am grateful for growing up in this city and for being aware. For being alert. For knowing my surroundings. For having my own back. For knowing that we live in a society where women are constantly violated and we must protect and defend ourselves. For understanding that are so many people in pain who do terrible things to survive and who are hungry.
After my heart slowed down and I could meditate on my experience and see it differently. Now I can stay calm. Now I can pray for him.
May we always remember that things will happen TO us but they are also happening FOR us. I pray that that young man has a safe place to sleep and food to eat.
May we never lose hope!
Thank you for taking this journey with me.
And so it is. Namasté. Aché
With all my love,
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