I have never seen the man in the moon. I have never seen a rabbit, wolf, snake, bat, or other kind of creature in that scarred silver surface. The moon has always been the moon, benevolently smiling down, even without a face. Yet even in its full and awesome light, I cannot shake the sense of wariness that steals upon me. The sense of fear.
I think there is a fundamental different in the way men and women are raised. Women are raised to fear. Oh, little boys are told, along side little girls, "Don't talk to strangers. Don't get in cars with strangers." But aside from the random serial killer and rabid dog, the dangers in this world are so much fewer. As women come of age they swiftly become aware of another predator, one who walks in right beside us down the street every day and makes up 48% of the population. We get pulled aside into special classes and spoken to about anorexia, date rape, stalkers, sexual predators, and domestic abuse.
Despite that, most of us turn out okay. Yet the vague sense that the world can in fact be a dangerous place lingers, always in the back of our minds, so ever present we don't even notice it. Until the dark. I am afraid of the dark.
Last summer I walked home every night after dark. It was not my own species I worried about, but where there is dark the imagination conjures monsters to fill it. Every time I left downtown and walked through the open meadow to my tent high in the trees, under starlight, moonlight, or clouded dark skies, I was afraid. Every time the adrenalin flowed, ears perked, eyes wide, head scanning, nose sniffing, all my senses alive. Every time I walked without a flashlight. Every time I was afraid.
Even now, sitting on a rock in the alley behind the little house I call home for this summer, the nearby intersection brightly lit, sounds flowing out from neighboring houses, and a full moon overhead, I still feel it. Not fear precisely, but wariness, the precursors of fight or flight. And my imagination conjures, drunks and bums, mountain lions have been spotted in the city, stray dogs, and drunk drivers. Nothing to get alarmed about, but it is always there, a steady background hum.
Can I shed it, or will I always live with this fear?