Three weeks ago in Gimpo two guys rode by me on their bicycles and slapped my ass. I was walking to a convenience store around midnight down a quiet street, passed towers of residential buildings with big flashing emblems baring their names. A young man leaning over his bike made eye contact with me, and for a moment I thought to myself, run. I was even wearing my running gear, it would have been so easy, I could have darted down that street into the safety of the bright lights and security guards that were just around the corner. But being in Korea I had never felt much in the way of danger before, so I ignored my gut and kept walking. Moments later I heard bicycles approaching me, they sounded too close and I scooted over to avoid them. They were, of course, too close with intention, and after they accosted me they road off in their hooded sweatshirts laughing.
You always think you know how you are going to react in a situation, but when frozen in fear and shock those thoughts don’t come so easily. I didn’t even yell, I kept walking at the same pace as tears welled up in my eyes. The worst part about this situation is the not the act itself but the thoughts that followed, thoughts like, “I’m lucky that’s all they did.” That’s the way that society has trained me, and other women like me, to think. It’s abhorrent. Since then I have been a bit on edge. The next day when walking home from the same area, I stopped at a convenience store and bought an ice cream, potato chips, and a two dollar box cutter to carry home with me. I opened that box cutter right in front of the shop and walked home with it drawn and exposed, aware of how crazy I must have looked, but nobody messes with crazy.
Now I’m back in Tokyo, land of safety and poised human beings. The box cutter can take a rest in my closet along with most of my summer clothes. The weather is cool and fresh and no one is lurking the shadows, except cats, and cats evoke nothing but happiness. It looks like a bomb exploded around my futon, piles of clothes and different bags in various states of unpacked. I sit at my desk staring at all the things that need cleaning, but instead I’m about to leave my house at one in the morning to go meet friends at a bar nearby. My bike tires need a good filling, it will be an obnoxious ride on any hills that I encounter. But I’m so happy to be riding again, public transportation just isn’t my thing, ever, even here in Japan where I am free from the anxiety of gum chewers.
I managed to put on make up in the mirror downstairs without destroying my face. It’s that kind of lighting where even if you have no pimples, you can still see all those little nearly invisible bumps under your skin that need a squeezing. My favorite lazy day activity– oh, my skin looks so great today– let’s change that. Followed by twenty minutes of attacking my face until no pore is left untainted. It must be inflamed, red, and covered in rising bumps. It must be a monstrous site that needs twelve hours of sleep to heal, it must be kept indoors away from the publics eye.
I don’t have anything left to say today.