Day Two: Brave
Without a permanent male in my life, I tended to fill that masculine role on my own. What I mean is, I steeled myself against any threats and felt I had to be the brave one, whether by myself or with roommates.
(As a side note, I know bravery isn’t a strictly masculine trait, but I often associate it with a rush of testosterone, of which men have more than women. So I guess you could say I felt like I was a man and a woman at the same time when it came to instances when being brave was crucial.)
For example, when I lived with three other girls, we got a knock on our apartment door fairly late one Saturday evening. Two guys were at our door, drunkenly hollering the name of someone who didn’t live in our apartment. As tends to happen when something unexpected occurs, a ripple of uncertainty shuddered among the three of us who were inside. I can’t speak for my former roommates, but in my head, I knew I had to “man up” and force these strangers to go away. Having worked as a police reporter in the past, I’m more wary of strangers now than I once was, and without knowing these guys’ true intentions, I wasn’t about to be caught off guard.
After one of my roommates insisted that there was no one there by that name, the guys still wouldn’t leave. I watched them through the peephole, whispering to each other outside our door. I’ve already got a low, manly voice anyway, but I lowered it further and barked out, “Goodnight, guys.”
Their heads popped up. “Uh, are you sure (so-and-so) doesn’t live there?” one of them asked.
“Nope. Sure doesn’t. You’ll have to go somewhere else,” I said. Curt. Authoritative. That was my goal.
I stood on the other side of the peephole, my hands balled into fists and my shoulder braced against the door, and I watched them walk away. (I should add that when I turned around, one of my roommates was standing by her bedroom brandishing a field hockey stick. She was prepared.)
Fast forward almost two years later. Cory dwarfs my 5-foot-3-inch frame and outweighs me by about 60 pounds. He almost went to a college other than Western Kentucky University on a rifle team scholarship, and is still distinguished in handling a firearm. He works in a factory where he’s lifted dozens of 70-pound truck frames seven days a week for years, and he’s got the strength to prove it. With all of these attributes, I’ve been comfortable to let him take the wheel in protecting us should stuff start to go down.
When I’m alone, a neighbor’s door opening and closing can send me into a wide-eyed, paralyzed panic. I scare easily when Cory pops out from behind a doorway, even if he just did the same thing 18 seconds earlier. Oh, and someone stole my trash can not long after I moved into my new apartment last year, and I thought I’d go crazy with the fear provoked by feelings of invasion and violation.
I don’t think it’s a good thing that I’m becoming more scared just because I don’t see myself as the only line of defense. From what I’ve heard from other single gals (and the gals who remember their single lives), they don’t worry nearly as much as I do because they accept that on the off chance that something dangerous happens, they’re prepared to fight tooth and nail to protect themselves. But they’re more sane than I am because they don’t expect it to happen every minute of the day.
So that’s something I could work on. Just because I’ve got a big strong man to ride in and save the day doesn’t mean I should forget the bravery of my singlehood.