It was a gorgeous night for a walk. Cool but not cold, with a brisk breeze. The sky was clear, for once, which meant I could see the stars – and had a perfect view of the bright crescent moon hanging in the western sky.
I reflected on my progress over the last couple of months. When I first started taking walks at night I had to push through a considerable amount of anxiety and would spend most of the walk with my fists clenched, jumping at shadows. Last night I felt pretty relaxed and calm. I’ve been experiencing less anxiety in general, in all aspects of my existence, which is quite nice.
It’s not that I don’t know the worst case scenarios that could happen in my private night time rambles. The risk is very low, though. I discovered this around the age of 15, wishing I had never been born but unable to bring myself to attempt suicide. Instead I would get on my bike and go out late at night, hoping to get murdered.
It sounds very silly and melodramatic, now. There’s a reason I would never want to repeat being a teenager. Still, my pain and depression at the time were real and consuming, and I pictured the world as being a lot more dangerous and depraved than it really is. As a reasonably attractive blonde 15 year old, riding my bike late at night seemed like it should be a surefire way to attract trouble.
It was not. It turns out the suburbs – even the suburbs in shitty towns on the west coast of Florida – were pretty benign. Most people don’t even seem to bother coming out late at night unless they have to work. Not only is it exceedingly rare to discover you have a serial killer in your neighborhood it turns out they aren’t likely to spend their time skulking around in the night on the off chance a teenager with a death wish shows up.
It turns out that, statistically speaking, it’s much easier to end up ignored and overlooked than murdered.
So, I’ve felt fairly safe walking late at night. One night there were people in the skate park, but otherwise I’ve never seen anyone else out for a night time constitutional, let alone night time skullduggery.
I made my way to my hill and found that the grass was only a little bit damp, so I sat down and relaxed. I watched a couple of passenger trains with their many lighted windows go by. Then I sang Rainbow Connection, because I wanted to sing and it is the only song that is not a hymn for which I can reliably remember the lyrics.
After I’d finished singing, and looking at the moon a little longer, I checked the time and stood up to leave, where to my horror and embarrassment, I discovered that I was not alone in the park. I heard voices at the bottom of my hill and saw at least two figures on the trail, there.
So, it turns out a couple of teenage boys knocking around on their skateboards may have overheard some weirdo suburban mom singing Rainbow Connection on top of a hill at 11:30 at night.
There’s a life lesson in here, folks. Statistically speaking, your lifetime chance of being murdered is pretty low. However, your lifetime chance of feeling embarrassed is 100%.