Apologises. It seems the only time I seem to do a real posts on here these days when I need to vent.
I went on a long journey yesterday to meet an associate in the Western suburbs and then travel with them to the airport. It was a 4 hour round trip. With a change on each leg.
I — The Eyes
As I got further out from the change at Strathfield I noticed people staring more. People stare at me all the time and everywhere. It was more noticeable because they were fewer words. I used to try to make-believe that it’s because I’m some stunning beautiful mystical creature here to bring peace or just a really hot woman (this particular imagining will become relevant later).
I am used to children staring especially those in prams stuck looking at me in lifts, but even others, and the pointing. And the adults; particularly those who 20 seconds earlier weren’t looking where they were going, and seemed shocked that “it” actually moves. Its odd when kids are dragged in one direction while staring back at me: parents disengaged.
Each time anyone stares it does tug at me. It wears me down. It accumulates. I’m not a circus animal.This is not the zoo. I don’t come with a label stuck to my cage (wheelchair) explaining my feeding schedule and breeding. I didn’t charge admission. I’m just trying to get through Life unscathed. By the 5th stare or glare (about 10 am most days) I want the ground to swallow me up and leave it to the Real Humans.
I know in the case of a child its curiosity. I get that. I try to be gentle. Really I do. I try to smile back. I used to try to say hello but these days that doesn’t seem to be well received especially with those of different cultures. I smile at the parents and get a stare back or a sheepish look or a glare for daring to speak to their child. So, in the case of the lift, after receiving whatever look I’m going to get I retreat. I crawl backwards, missing the days before the baby boom meaning that everywhere that works for me there go many prams/families which for me is super tough as I would love to be a Mum of some sort but it isn’t going to happen.
It used to be parents told their kids not to stare.
Now no one says anything.
It used to be parents told their kids it was rude
So I could hear
Now they join in
It used to be kids were told to ask questions of me
when tugging and whispering on Mum’s arm
Now silence or adults ask their own
CG chose to use the stairs. Lucky him. To not get squashed or make more room for more of the same or not be seen with me. I’m not sure which. I wished I could join him. It’s why I use ramps. I control the pace.
So I went it alone.
II — The Mouth
Somewhere close to Blacktown a gentleman got on, elderly but not super old. English was not his first language. He sat on the opposite side of the carriage, in a pink polo shirt and pants. Looking at me, staring at me. I tried to ignore him, but could feel his eyes on me so that the hairs on my arm stuck up. I tried to ignore it as usual, but it felt strange.
My bag was next to CG and I sat next to the door with the glass between us having allowed for prams to pass me. I only put my face mask on sporadically. (can’t get an infection at the moment so should have been wearing it but people seem to lipread me more than hear me so I’d taken it off). I coughed so retrieved mask and put it on. Pink Shirt looked relieved. Oh dear.
It was obvious CG and I knew each other as I sometimes sat side on to face him. Approaching Lidcome or so CG was asked “how old is he”?, and stared back at me. I pulled down my mask so he could see my face which despite my Sinead O’Conner look still I hoped looked feminine complete with the floral dress I was wearing the wedge heals and the eye make up. I said softly but firmly I’m a woman. I said it twice. I didn’t yell it because I didn’t want to make a scene.
But that was not the point. He wasn’t looking to me for answer. CG eventually said “It’s not polite to ask a woman her age”. I stared away, into space and willed my eyes to stay dry. I wanted to get off the train, change carriage (not allowed given the need for the ramp to get off), anything but stay there.
In fact my world got hypersensitive and claustrophobic and I felt alone. Pink Shirt told me at one point to be happy. I think I grimaced and sent CG a text he didn’t comment on. As Pink was disembarking at Redfern he held his hands up in my direction, arms length. Was it prayer or a remote laying on of hands (which I love — not), or an act of warding off evil spirits. No idea.
CG seemed to distance himself even further from me. I noticed that. Can’t say I blame him. Later I had to remind him he’d said he wanted a hug goodbye and he seemed to want that to be over as soon as humanly possible as soon as someone else rang, only really interacting with me when no one else could see. Can’t blame him.
It wasn’t just the gender issues. Maybe he meant she but didn’t have the language. I get that. It was the fact that I have to be ready to hear questions like that whenever I leave the house. I’m public property. Even if I choose not to answer them. Even if I say they are rude. I may not get them, but I must be ready. The vigilance is exhausting but the minute I try and sit in a pleasant corner of my brain I get caught with defences down and it hurts more. It is the fact that he felt ok about staring at me and asking a 3rd person about me. If I’d been an upright I doubt he would’ve, of if he did, more than CG would have noticed and objected.
III — Fallout
I hear this happens to pregnant women too. Touching bellies, asking due dates etc. I get that. There are differences. Pregnancy is a time limited state undertaken usually by choice and with a reward at the end. I’ve been pregnant for long enough now. I want out. Its also publicly discouraged to touch bellies.
I know that in most cases it’s no individual or child’s intention to insult. That most people are just trying to be nice or are curious but it does accumulate.I try and be gracious. I want to go back to hibernation.
It was a long day and I’m not sure of the value.
I don’t know why, but this feels like an important post. If you like this or know me can you please send it on to someone else? J
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