this post is so overdue! thanks for your interest - prayers - patience!
i've been out a few more times, once alone (in the early evening - not too scary), and the other times with a kind and compassionate friend.
i've been trying to find the right words and usually by the time the kids are in bed and i sit down to write this, the weight of it just wears me down and i can't find the energy to write.
but this is what's new:
there are a few girls who regularly stand on the street. i always say hi when i pass them, and they usually say hi in return - though they're almost always absorbed in their phones.
last week, a different girl - woman, i guess, at least, i'd guess she's older than i am - was out, and she was walking down the street grumbling out loud to herself about something. i asked if she was okay. she said yes, thanks for asking, and kept going, so we walked on. then from about half a block away, she turned and yelled, i really mean it! normally i'd tell people to @#$%, but you seem genuine!
so i'm taking that as a little step in the right direction :).
later, as we walked by her again, one of the smaller girls called from another section of the street and warned her that people in a red van were driving by and throwing things at them.
it made me so sad. and angry. like their lives need any more garbage.
the night i went out alone was also illuminating.
it was freezing cold, and patrick had been out running errands. he got home before sunset, and told me the girls were already out. i knew i didn't have a walking buddy, so i decided to go then, alone, before it got quite dark. i took my phone just in case anything happened.
well, as it happened, there weren't any girls out by the time i got there. i don't know if they decided it was too cold, or if they all got picked up. there's usually 3 on any given night, in the same-ish spots. so i walked to the end of the street and turned around to come home.
i was walking along where one of the girls usually stands, and a black truck drove by, slow, with the driver's window all the way down. brrr, i think, that guy's nuts! but he had a red plaid jacket on, a lumberjack jacket i guess - and he nodded.
the hooker-street is in my neighbourhood, one block away from the main drag where they all used to stand - there used to be a lot of bars and things there. anyway, the city focused on cleaning up that street - the bars closed, and there isn't any prostitution to be seen. i don't know where people get drunk now, but the hookers just moved one street further in. it's weird though, with houses and kids and blocks and hookers so close together - i guess i wouldn't be surprised to see prostitutes in a bar district, but it's pretty disconcerting to see them on a residential street, standing every few blocks, leaning up against church walls and wooden fences.
so i'm about to cross a side-street when the black truck turns in front of me and pulls over in the side street. weird, i think, he's circling - he must be lost.
and then it hits me. he really is lost.
he was hoping to pick me up.
i know it's naive of me not to have thought of that right away, but i guess i never imagined anyone would mistake me for a hooker.
i walk on, assuming he'll figure it out. it's a public street after all - and people walk up and down it all the time.
but he circles again, and pulls in front of me at the next crosswalk.
and the next.
by this time i'm getting a little bit uncomfortable, and i definitely don't want him to follow me home and find out where i live. just because it's weird. i assume he's a john, and that's not really a big deal, but the worrisome part is that he could be a pimp - and they're scary.
so i call patrick and chat with him. the truck slows to a crawl while i walk under a tree, and i hurry up - thankful to see a group of people and a convenience store at the end of the street - not too far ahead.
anyway, long story, he finally stopped circling when i went into the store.
but it made me realize how scary - and awful - and horrid it must be to willingly go out there and get in vehicles with complete strangers - and that's just the beginning.
i can't imagine the type of motivation - fear? poverty? drugs? - that drives someone to do that.
my heart breaks for them.
so if you're saying some prayers tonight, say some for the hookers. and the johns. and the pimps. and us, too ...
we all need Jesus.