Friday, October 23, 2009

Feeling Skittish

So yesterday, I went to an ‘intercambio’ dinner at the house of the Portuguese III professor, directly after class ended. Annede also teaches english so both classes ate and conversed together. I had a lot of fun, and we ordered banana pizza so the universe was at peace. We spoke english for about half the time and Portuguese for the other half. It was actually really neat because the students in the english class spoke at a high level, and by now, so do we, so it was fairly simple to make ourselves understood in both languages and it was fun to teach some slang!

The event ended around 9:30, but we hung around talking until about 9:50, when we finally parted ways. There were six of us exchange students there; four elected to take a cab because they lived close to one another; another student, Charles, and I went the public transportation route.

I was already a little on the uneasy side because we’d been told not to take the bus after 10-10:30 and that time was getting closer by the second, plus, I had my schoolbag on, which had my laptop in it (I had to finish my independent study proposal last night). Charles was going the opposite way from me but he decided to walk me to the bus stop. Usually, I kind of scorn that kind of thing, but I agreed to it, and I’m glad I did, because on the way there the streets were empty and Charles said that his Portuguese prof had told him last week that two students coming to visit her last week had been robbed at gunpoint on the exact same walk we were doing. She lives in a really nice area, but that’s ultimately not great since it means high walls you can’t see around, not a lot of people on the street, and it’s a vulnerable area anyways because people know rich people live there.

I made it to the bus stop just fine, and jumped on the first bus that came, but after Charles’ story I was feeling more skittish than usual. I tried to be as calm as I could--after all, I really was in very minimal danger--but my imagination got going despite my best efforts.

I was sitting close to the front of the bus watching for my stop. After a fair bit I started recognizing the area and knew I was close. I spotted the Texaco on the corner of my street and hopped of the bus...only to realize that I was definitely not at my street yet. OK, future reference: gas stations probably aren’t the best landmarkers to use.

I decided to keep walking--I knew I was close to home and I knew which direction to walk. But I just couldn’t turn off that paranoid feeling. The sidewalks were dark and emptier than usual; I was carrying a laptop, and in truth I didn’t know exactly how many blocks I still had to cover.

I walked briskly, making the next street light or bus stop my only objective, avoiding eye contact and always listening and looking out.

After an eternity, I finally recognized the street directly before mine, so I turned early, to cut off doubling back, and arrived at my apartment after walking through a much less lit area that really gave me the creeps/

I’m thankful that nothing happened. I was careless and not as aware as I should have been on that bus and when I realized I wasn’t close to home yet I should have just grabbed the next bus. At the same time, I hate how paranoid I was. I think I usually have a very healthy measure of fear walking out alone, but I hate that it limits my actions, and I can’t help feeling sometimes that it’s unnecessary. Last night I got too scared, but better safe than sorry.

1 comment:

Donald said...

Dear Katie -- "Promise me you'll alwasremeber: you're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
Christopher Robin to Pooh
Love, Gran & G'dad