Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 79

I DON’T DO IT ALL THE TIME. ONLY WHEN I FEEL SAFE. And that shit’s relative. Safety, I mean. First time, I was at a traffic light. It was early morning. Daybreak. They were gathered on the corner, at an intersection near my neighborhood. Day laborers waiting for a chance to work. A group of 20 or so. Smoking cigarettes. Shooting the breeze. I’d see them most days on my way to catch the sunrise over the St. Johns River. Usually, I don’t get stopped by the light and turn before they even notice me. Not this morning. My ritual: convertible top down, meditation music on deck, water with fresh lemon, raw, unsalted almonds, and a ripe banana. “Hey baby, I got something else to put in your mouth.” I glance to my right. I say nothing but slowly lower the banana. “Yeah YOU, sexy bitch!” “ The others laugh. I ask him where he grew up, if he was raised with a momma, sisters, aunties or a grandmother. ” I feel violated. Womanhood interrupted by the Patriarchy. I wonder how many seconds before the light turns green. I contemplate closing my convertible top. I glance to my left. There’s a gas station and sometimes police cars. Not today. A few moments later, the light changes and I drive away. I’m scared and pissed. I don’t get far. I’ve thought about it before. Exactly what I’d say. I even practiced in the mirror. But each time, I’d freeze. Feeling overwhelmed with the ordinariness of it all. Not today. I abruptly turn around in the middle of the street, burning a little rubber. There’s an abandoned lot across the street from the day laborer spot and I pull in. I zig zag through oncoming traffic, my eyes focused on the one with the smart, dirty mouth. They see me coming and give each other high fives. I walk up, extend my hand. “Hi, I’m Chevara. What’s your name?” He looks startled and grins. Like maybe I’m about to ask for his seven digits. VOL. 34, NO. 1 © 2019 TIKKUN MAGAZINE 79