It was 8:10pm when I left my apartment and started walking towards the pharmacy.
Fresh out of the shower, my curls drew a curtain around my face like a wet mop.
I wanted to go unnoticed so I could connect with myself and get lost in my own thoughts.
And lucky for me, I was wearing my brown puffy coat, which hides everything, including any potential body curves that might give away the fact that I’m a woman.
The pharmacy was 10 blocks away and I thought that it might just be enough walking time to get some life-changing insight…Either on the way there or the way back.
I was pretty sure that the key to hiding from people was to take the road less traveled. So literally, I decided to take a residential road so that I wouldn’t have to pass anybody and make eye contact or have any human connection except with myself.
I slid my earbuds into my ears, but decided to walk in silence. No podcast blaring. No music. Nothing.
This means I might actually have to walk and listen to my feet hitting the ground. Maybe, just maybe, I’d hear my own voice in my head. I might even accidentally talk out loud. And if that did happen, hopefully I’d fit right in on the streets of San Francisco, but more importantly, hopefully I’d recognize my own voice.
It’s the end of July and there’s a light mist as I walked outside. A typical San Francisco summer, I sped up to stay warm.
Halfway down the first block I saw a familiar old man with a walker.
I’m pretty sure he just does laps around the building. A few in the morning and a few in the evening. Sometimes he plops the seat down on his walker in the middle of the sidewalk and takes a rest.
As I fast approached him, he shuffled to a pause and looked up at me.
We made eye contact, and he gave me a wide toothless smile and nodded his head. Taken off guard, I grinned back at the last minute, but I wasn’t sure he saw me.
I felt bad for not saying hello. So, before I got to the end of the street, I paused and walked backwards a few steps so I was in front of him again.
“Good evening!” I said loudly and I gave him a large fake grin.
He squinted and smiled with an open mouth. He nodded slightly and then kept shuffling forward. I’m not even sure he knew that I was the same person.
Eager to get to the pharmacy before it closed, I jogged across the intersection to pick up the pace.
Two blocks later I cross paths with a man walking a white poodle and smoking a cigarette.
He locked eyes with me as I circled around him. “Evening.” he said to me as his eyes followed my body.
Using my headphones as a deploy, I pretend not to hear him, and kept walking.
By the seventh block, I shook my head to myself in disappointment when I realized I’d spent the entire walk worrying.
Mostly worrying about things that hadn’t happened yet. I congratulate myself of being conscious of my thoughts, and think about my feet hitting the ground. “Be mindful.” I whisper to myself as I march forward.
But by the eighth block, I started daydreaming about how I might have my insightful moment on the walk back. Damn ego. Go away.
On the corner of ninth block, three college boys stopped to let me pass in front of them. “What’s up girl?” one of them called out at me.
Not sure if I was flattered or feeling flirty, I respond with the first thing that came to mind, “Oh, Heyyyyyy.” Like I held the y in “hey” for a good three seconds too long.
Finally, I barged into the Walgreens. I marched down the beauty aisle, and squeezed past two 30-something men looking at the rows of shampoo options. “Pardon me…” I quietly said as I ducked past them. No, literally, I ducked. As if they were taking a picture of the shampoo.
I heard one of the men laugh behind me and ask if I have any recommendations. Feeling flirty, but also practical, I responded, “Curly girls don’t use shampoo.” I didn’t even look back, I just kept heading to the pharmacy in the back of the store.
I walked home slightly annoyed that I didn’t get the reflection time I had anticipated…
All I wanted was a quick and quiet trip to the pharmacy. I wanted time to connect with myself. Connect with my thoughts, and get some insight.
When I walked back into my apartment and plopped my bag down on the floor, I stood next to the door for a minute in silence. I was quickly reminded that I was alone.
Then I realized that the connection I had been craving on the walk had been there all along…and I didn’t even have to look for it. I had walked right into it.