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We Are Strangers Here: Notes towards an Anti-Memoir (Subscribers Only)

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July 23, 2015

I just wrote this, for subscribers only, a piece that may or may not become part of an anti-memoir.  I refuse to confess, but I do allude to some things.  Here's an excerpt.  Subscribers can access the entire piece here, after logging in.  If you'd like to subscribe, go here


"[A]s I walked or drove along with whoever was assigned to protect me, I mused about the irony of being told to feel safe in the very spaces where I faced the most threat, where I was the most likely to be met by the violence I was told lay outside. 

The result is that even many years later, I have a tendency to walk into places and situations without thinking about danger, unanchored by any sense of safety that might serve as a contrast.  It's not that I'm brave, at all, but that I am guided by a certain kind of cluelessness.  It's not that I don't watch my surroundings.  As someone who walks everywhere and at sometimes odd times, I've learnt to avoid places and people based on what we like to call our sixth sense, which is really an accretion of our lived experience bubbling to the top of our consciousness as we move into unfamiliar surroundings. The group of people at a table staring at me do so in the full light of day, and I’m comfortable eating and, sometimes, chatting with them.  The man walking by and pretending not to see me, pretending not to take stock is the one who causes me to cross the street.  The implied question, Who is this stranger? is less threatening than the casually implied statement:  I'm going to pretend I don't see you as a stranger. I'm going to pretend to make you safe."

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