Lately I've been making a half-mile or so walk from the bus stop to get to a specific destination at night. It's something that I had to do because I've locked myself out on several occasions and, each time, I've had to rely on a roseville ca Locksmith to get me out of my quandry. It's happened enough time now that the guys who comes out has s certain wry smile when he's doing his locksmith thing. Kinda like "Haha, this guy's locked himself out again?!"
All this happens, in spite of the fact that the walk completely creeps the fcuk out of me. Nothing special--just the usual Kansas City evening walk, meaning I'm usually the only person on foot around for what feels like miles. Every warning I had drilled into my head growing up screams at or whispers to me along that route; it feels like I'm doing everything I'm not supposed to be doing as a woman alone. But damn it, I want to go where I'm going, so I walk it anyway and try my best to stifle the fear, reminding myself that other women walk much further in true danger every night somewhere else.
The deserted streets still do their damndest to freak me out, and if I'm being honest, I'll confess that I dread it and let out a little mental sigh of relief when I arrive. I don't think that I'm really in any particular danger, but because it's so desolate, it feels threatening. It's that perpetual female fear of assault. Is there anywhere on earth where women don't feel that?
Further north downtown, the 10th & Main transit plaza now hosts a public art installation of more than a dozen aluminum cutout sculptures. The figures are bus riders who posed for the artists in "straphanger" mode—grabbing on to the overhead pole straps on a bus. Detached from the context of the bus, they could be saluting, celebrating, waving, hailing, or just simply posing. I was kind of snarky when they were first announced, but I knew I'd probably end up liking them since I liked other work by one of the artists.
I had only seen these sculptures during the day and early evening before I went by the plaza late one night when I had to do a short film for a class. No buses ran through there at that time of night. A plaza that is normally populated throughout the day and evening was empty and cold after midnight.
But that sculptured woman was still reading. Another one still held her child on her hip. When do you ever see a woman carrying a child downtown after midnight?
It struck me that the one thing these sculptured metal women do—notable in the presence of metal men after midnight—is stand firm. They do not cower, they do not shrink, and they do not run. Unlike me on that walk at night, they don't flinch, don't glance over their shoulders in fear. They stand their ground. They have just as much right to be here in this cold open plaza in the middle of the night as any man. Some wear skirts instead of trying to mask their sexuality in the late night, but they aren't selling it, no matter what a passing male driver might assume or wish.
After seeing the sculptures in that late night context, I looked at the metal women in a different way. While we fleshy women are traveling with others or are often sequestered inside cars or apartments after midnight, these aluminum women remain in the plaza, one by one. Reading, stretching, whatever it is that they are doing—living their lives openly in isolated public space without fear or harm. In their reflective silver polished surfaces, I can dream of someday feeling no fear, even as I walk alone in the dark through deserted streets, under bridges, passing safely between the warm light of my destination and the bus that takes me home.