What I am about to talk about maybe a trigger for people who have been the victim of assault, so here is my heads up to walk away freely if you need to. For those of you that chose to remain reading till the end, I have one more thing to say. Some of you will not believe what I have written, they will think it blustery or self-aggrandizement and you too may walk away. It is not your time yet and I sincerely mean it when I say, I hope you never know what I am talking about. For those of you left, some of you will recognize what I am about to say and we will probably know each other, because on some fundamental level these experiences change us and mark us for life with an invisible mark recognized only by those that have been there.
About 15 years ago I was living in New York. I worked at a nightclub in the City on weekends and caught the last train leaving Manhattan for Queens around 4:00 am after finishing my night. Before I left work I always changed into army boots, tied my hair back and put on a hat; which was standard routine when trying to stay safe. I also studied Tae Kwon Do, another way to stay safe. There was a serial rapist in Queens that they had not caught and that was that; you do what you have to do and what you can do.
So this particular night, I got on an empty train car and sit down in an aisle seat. About 2 stops in, a heavy set white man in his 40’s steps into the empty car and looks right at me. (Now here’s that bit about if you have been there, you will know what I mean.) That man looked at me and in that look, beyond that look, in the air and energy that surrounded him and surrounded me; I knew he was thinking about hurting me or killing me. He was analyzing the situation and his subject if you will. There is no exaggeration to this I promise you, it simply was.
The man walks through the empty train car and over to me, his footsteps echoing. We studied each other as he walked to towards me, our eyes never left each other the whole time. He then sits on the inside window seat right next to me, and we both turned in a very deliberate manner, looking directly into each other’s eyes. What he was doing was reading me and he was exceptionally good at it, I knew this for a fact. This man was reading me for fear; he was hunting for it like an animal in the wild studies which of the herd he will target.
I had both my hands in my pockets; in my right a knife, in my left mace and I had my body which studied martial arts every night of the week. I knew where my strengths and weaknesses lay and held myself ready. I had also been studying energy and you better believe I had called upon the most powerful sign of protection placing it right there in front of me glowing. The man looked and I looked, and I could feel him reading my mind.
I said in a voice that only he and my gods could here, “I am not of afraid of you, I have been fighting my whole damn life and I will fight you. I will fight you with everything I have and you don’t know what I have and we don’t know who will win, but I guarantee you it will be bloody.” I said it over and over and over again like a mantra as he continued to study my face. I even allowed the slightest, tiniest hint of a sneer to form itself at the corner of my mouth.
It may seem impossible to believe this was my reaction, but I understood darkness. I was raised in a house where the very walls were soaked and dripping with it and I learned to survive. I learned very early on to study, learn and fight, and not with a half-assed sort of approach, but as if my life depended on it, because it did. I had learned more often than not that meeting this kind of evil with full on rage could and would save my life.
We continued to stare, our eyes locked; this man and I with a lion that is in me growling ready to spring. I am not a runner I have never been able to run in my life, I have always had to fight and right there and then I stared at a man who was thinking of killing me. At some point he got up and he walked off the train, possibly in search of someone else. I wasn’t shaken; I was incredibly calm as I watched him disappear away from the platform. That night I went home, I slept, I did not worry, nor did I think about it. I just got on with trying to stay alive for another night and then another and another
This is a small piece of my private life. You may wonder why after all these years I have chosen to out myself, I have chosen to lift the curtain just a peak on who I really am. I am full of stories and that is only one. But this story, this one has been circling round and round in my head the last few days.
It keeps playing itself on repeat and I have to question “Why? What is its purpose after all these years?”
The truth is, outside of all the public hoo-ha, I am actually a very private person. For the most part, I keep my stories to myself and I am an introvert in the rather ironic position of having a career which requires me to be an extrovert. Many over the years have failed to notice me beyond the fancy hats and frocks. They have failed to see or grasp what lay underneath. That’s OK, I know what’s there, and I also recognize the ones that have it; that have that steel underneath their skin. They don’t wear it on the outside because they have nothing to prove, only to themselves. They are the old warriors the fighters who have hung up their swords because they got tired of fighting and they wanted peace. But the truth is many of the most peaceful of, the most Zen, were warriors once.
Right now, I feel as though I am on that train, only this time I am not alone; my friends, family and my community are on that train. The conductor driving that train is friends with the man and the man is not alone, he has friends. So call me a coward and I will look in your eyes and say, “test me”.
Don’t tell me to fight as if you were talking to a child who wasn’t born understanding there was no other option and don’t tell me to get over it, because it is my life and is the life of everyone in this country I care about. It took my 10 long years to become a citizen, to wave my small U.S. flag and feel like I finally belonged and that I finally had rights.
Here is my story, for my sisters and brothers out there who feel like they are waking up in hell right now and it has barely begun. I hear you, I see you, and I recognize you. You, yes you, who has been fighting your whole damn life to stay alive. I guess that’s it, that’s the message. I am not going to tell you to fight, or run, or judge you, hell no. I am going to tell you to do what you need to do to stay alive and I am going to respect the hell out of you for doing it.