I walk alone.

darkI walk alone. On Fin Family Moominbeach. And sometimes in the woods there too. It is safe there. I have been going there since I was an infant. The susurration of the pine trees as we turned the corner on the last leg of our journey there is my first auditory memory. It is safe there. It is my family’s beach. It is on the shores of Lake Superior. Everyone is a friend there. Until the day a friend of a friend followed me down to the end of the beach and I didn’t know it until I was *at* the end and turned around. I’m not gonna tell this story. It had a good ending and, although I wouldn’t have believed it 30 years ago, I ran into this person a couple months ago and was able to greet him with friendliness and actually quite some humor. Is my beach safe? It is chock full of family members and close friends who would do anything for me and my family. It is safe. Except when it isn’t. Because anyone can be anywhere at any time, whether they are a good person or not.

I rode my bike alone. Around and around and around the block, 20 times was it? Yes, it was 20. I was about eight. I may have been a tad OCD at that age. Sault Ste. Siberia is a very small city. It is safe. It was a small block. Friends lived in every single house all the way around that block. Every night I would do this riding. It gets cold up there and one night, after all my riding, I remember bursting into the house happy and exhilarated and heading straight for the bathroom to run my frozen fingers under a stream of nice, hot water. The next night? Some asshole (sorry) in an old jalopy screeched to a stop beside me and asked if I wanted a ride to the “picture show”. I grabbed my bike and ran like hell. He yelled, “hey kid! hey kid!” I was two houses away from home and I could run FAST. I dove into our old dilapidated garage and into the house and as I looked out the dining room window, I could see his old jalopy going FAST down our alley. I did not tell my parents. I was too scared. Siberia is a small town and it is safe. Except when it isn’t. Like when The Commander’s friend Pauline walked out of the beauty parlor after getting her hair done and looked left and the guy who was walking toward her looked so scary she almost went back into the shop. She didn’t. He didn’t interact with her. But he hitch-hiked down and over to Chicago and killed seven or eight student nurses in their apartment. Richard Speck if you dare to google. He had been working on a lake freighter and jumped ship in Sault Ste. Siberia that day. (Or maybe not exactly, now that I have googled…)

I walk alone. In the dark. Here on the Planet Ann Arbor. It is a safe city and I live in a safe neighborhood. Except when it isn’t. Serial killers? Yes, we have had some. John Norman Collins. He was killing college girls back in, when was that? The late 60s. I wasn’t a college girl yet. I didn’t live on the Planet. Early 80s. Coral Watts. Raping and killing young women. Following them into their apartments, forcing them into their bathtubs and slashing them to bits. I lived alone then, in an apartment on the Planet. He killed women and then drove to Canada and back. Canada? Why? I dunno. He must’ve been calm enough that customs waved him through. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the last serial killer we had here. It was in the mid 1990s and he was operating in a swath through town that was pretty dern close to my neighborhood. His first known victim was a woman in her 50s taking a walk in the woods that adjoined her back yard. Like I do every day. He bludgeoned her and left her for dead. She didn’t die but others did. I wasn’t walking in the dark in those days. I had kids to walk to school. Past the deep, dark, scary woods. A neighbor in my nice, safe (except when it isn’t) neighborhood asked me if I was afraid of the latest serial killer. Well, YES!!! BUT!!!!!!! More than that, I am ANGRY!!!! I told her that I thought that every woman in the city needed to be trained to use a gun (YES!) and take turns stationing themselves outside all of the woodsy parks. I think she thought I was a bit over the top but, WHAT THE HECK??? (For the record, I have never shot a gun.)

I walk alone. I have had enough weird and scary things happen to me in my life that I am always on the watch for people that seem out of place. People that want to engage me in some kind of weird conversation or whatever. Or just don’t look like they belong. It’s a safe neighborhood here. Except when it isn’t.

It’s a wonderful world, except when it isn’t. There are bad people. Watch out for them. Here’s one resource. Please do your own research for more.

Love y’all and be careful out there,
Kayak Woman

6 Responses to “I walk alone.”

  1. gg Says:

    I’m glad that your greatest “predator” worries are skunks.

  2. grandmothertrucker Says:

    a can of mace wouldn’t hurt. get one. a tazer maybe???

  3. Tonya Says:

    Throughout my childhood, I worried about NOTHING “unsafe.” As I recall, the only thing we were warned about were “explosives.” (WTF?) There were certainly no warnings about strangers trying to abduct kids — even my parents were naive about it, because as middle-classed people they wouldn’t have to be concerned about being hit up for a ransom. (That’s all that kidnapping was about then). But once I became a young adult (and extremely naive, I must say, as a result of an innocent upbringing), THEN I dealt with a couple of situations that were quite scary. The scariest was when I drove alone across the mountain pass to Washington State University (over 300 miles) to visit my best friend when I was 19. I was paced for miles and miles by a guy in a VW bug. When I pulled off to get gas, the guy in the Bug followed me. He got out of his car and watched me pump gas from the fuel island across the way, not pumping gas himself. I was totally in denial about any sense of danger (stupid!) and didn’t even say anything to the attendant inside! This guy was well-dressed in a tie. Dark curly hair. Sound familiar? It was 1975. I am 99.9% sure it was Ted Bundy. Thankfully I didn’t have long straight hair, so I apparently wasn’t his “type.” When I left the gas station and took the exit toward WSU, he took the other exit toward Spokane.

  4. Uncly Uncle Says:

    Thanks for posting the mugging link. Situational awareness is the most important thing and listening to the little voice that is telling you something is amiss. Not always, but it could head off a mugging.

  5. Margaret Says:

    I run alone and sometimes in the dark and don’t worry much. There is always a possibility of danger; that’s the world we live in, past and present. But I try not to obsess on it. We’ve had our share of serial killers in WA–Ted Bundy, as Tonya mentioned, and the Green River Killer. I’m hoping not to be any weirdo’s type, especially now that I’m so OLD. I do worry about my daughters though who worry about nothing.

  6. renee Says:

    thank you for this excellent post. your message is spot on: the world is safe, except when it isn’t. bad things can happen anywhere and in any kind of neighborhood. that doesn’t mean you should become a fearful hermit, but it does mean you should never assume you are so safe that your guard is down. LOOK as you pull into a parking lot. and people, do research and think about what you should do if you are attacked. — renee