I actually didn't think I had anything to say on the subject at first. I'm pretty oblivious and sometimes painfully naive. I certainly could tell you about a few incidents in college or even my first post college boss. I could vaguely tell you about times I felt uncomfortable without being about to tell you why.
Instead I want to tell you what happened in Franklin three weeks ago.
I flew to Nashville a day early to explore a little. Everywhere I went people were so chatty. Every restaurant I went to I would order at the counter and by the end of my meal someone was sitting and chatting with me.
An older lady laughed herself to tears explaining to me how it her kids had convinced her husband to get on Instagram and now they were always having to frame their travels up for the perfect shot.
I loved it. I laughed myself to tears too.
I was charmed when I found a bakery in Franklin with a blue gingham sign. As I walked up to the counter the smell of freshly baked comfort washed over me. As I placed my order I grinned at the table in the corner where women old and young had their Bibles laid out while they chatted vibrantly.
I took my number and found a counter seat looking out a window with a ruffled curtain to a street humming with life. People watching is the best.
Two days in I wasn't even surprised when a man in business casual attire with a more white than black coffee sat down beside me at the counter. To my left. Nor was I surprised when he struck up a conversation.
Are you from here? No, Texas.
What are you in town for? A homeschool conference.
So on and so forth. I prattled about the rattlesnake we had found the week before, and I'm sure I laughed at a bad joke.
Out of nowhere and unceremoniously he asked me back to his hotel room.
I wish I had handled it more gracefully. I wish I had something witty and somewhat scathing to say. I wish I had said it loudly. I would give anything if at that moment I could have channeled Julia Sugarbaker.
I awkwardly tried to laugh it off and tripped over myself getting out the door, whispering prayers that I hadn't left anything behind.
I ducked into the nearest women's retail clothing store and wandered around without seeing anything in front of me. My thoughts swirled out of control.
Was it my baggy shorts and t-shirt? Did my clothing suggest something to him? What did I say to make him think that was okay? Should I have blocked that seat when he tried to sit down? Should I have pulled up a book on my phone and read? Maybe I should have had my hair in a ponytail.
Darkness was creeping over me and I was almost in tears. I ducked out of the shop, reached for my phone like a lifeline, and by the time my husband picked up I could taste the saltwater on my lips.
I felt guilty.
I felt ashamed.
I felt guilty about my clothes and my hair. I felt guilty about where I sat down. I felt guilty about being alone. About being in a restaurant. About being nice. About chatting. I felt guilty about not standing my ground. About running like a chicken.
I've been traveling solo since I was nineteen and short of street vendors in Rome yelling marriage proposals I've never had anything like this happen to me before. Maybe I thought I just wasn't that kind of girl. Maybe I just thought I was better at conveying "hands off" than I really was. Maybe I mistakenly thought it was in my control.
I remember describing my clothes to Russ, repeating what I had said in between hiccups.
"It's not your fault."
"This isn't your fault."
"You didn't make this happen."
He just kept saying it over and over. Over and over.
Because I'm the lucky one. I'm a woman who in a few moments can hear the comforting voice of truth in my ears. I have support and strength on speed dial.
So many women don't.
On Earth as it is in Heaven women will be able to wander a side street in every beautiful corner of the world at twilight and enjoy the solitude of their own soul. But until that happens? Let's make sure we are standing together to say "Me Too."