Working from home means that I've kept much closer to home. That includes when I take walk breaks. One easy destination is the park behind the grade school a block north of my place. Around the block (school and park) or just the shorter walk behind the school and around the park, and then either go farther or go home, depending on the weather and my mood.
I did that walk twice today. And on the second walk, this thought appeared unbidden: Gee, what's a mid-30s single man doing hanging out near a school?
And I felt a little dirty. And I realized I'd already sort of been thinking that, other times I'd walked by, and reacting accordingly; I'd make sure my people-watching habits were kept in check when walking there at recess. Or even on that second walk, I had walked past a father, mother and child leaving the school, and nodded to the parents, not to the kid. (I couldn't even tell you if they had a daughter or a son.)
It's kind of a deadening thought; it has an unpleasant weight to it. It's hard to un-think. Even thinking it subconsciously has that can't un-think it effect.
I'll take it as a sign of being a decent person that I thought that, then thought about why I thought that. I don't want to think thoughts like it. I don't want to look threatening; I don't want to look threatening by not looking threatening. (See how maddening this can get?) I also know I shouldn't assume that other adults would see me and automatically think kid-stalker!, either; that's an unwinnable battle. It would put me on the perpetual defensive, playing that never-ending game of You Can't Win. No one should have to live like that. I certainly don't want to live that way.
I do my best to be careful and considerate. That helped me when I helped this young boy one time in November 2005: I led the kid up the hill from Barbur Blvd. below OHSU to the VA hospital on the hill, where he went to see his father. And during that walk, I made sure to talk to him -- not loudly but a little louder than conversationally -- to avoid any appearance of being sneaky, of doing anything other than helping him. I wanted the boy to be comfortable; I wanted any adults who saw us not to be uncomfortable. Subtle difference.
But I deserve not to feel suspicious...or, as I guess you could put it, suspected. So it's best to be decent, and upstanding, and a good example of a good person, and hope that that radiates from me.
And it would be a defeat to turn this into a rant about no one trusts men! Because that's untrue, and it's pat. It's a way to blame the world, which allows those who think that to also think the problem is too big to solve, so that absolves me of the responsibility to solve it. I do my best to be better than that.
"Trustworthy." It's a two-part concept. I do my best to be worthy of trust.
I'll keep doing my best to remind myself that I am worthy of trust.