Fear and Blueberries in St. Petersburg
|San Francisco Ferry Building, October 2012.|
In 1970 at the age of twenty-two, my mother moved to San Francisco. I don’t know if she had a flower in her hair, but she had excitement in her heart. She lived in what is known as the Marina and Cow Hollow, which are now knows as very very good neighborhoods in SF. (sorry if you thought this blog post was the start of a hippie story…No Haight Ashbury for Mama!)
|Mama and Daughter, circa 2007.|
When I went to College for the first time, Mom told me a story about San Francisco that she’d never told me before.
In the early 1970s, my Mom was walking from a bus stop in the residential area known as Pacific Heights. Otherwise known as a super affluent neighborhood and the adjacent Lower-Pacific Heights neighborhood served as the site for Full House. Anyhow, as my Mom stepped of the bus, she could hear footsteps behind her. No, she thought, she must be crazy. But again, she walked forward, and felt that there was someone behind her. Freaked out, my Mom glanced back. There was a young man behind her who clearly were not from the neighborhood. (Aka PC way of saying one really super scary looking dude who came from a very bad neighborhood.) Mom hurried to walk a little faster. As she looked back a second time, however, the man came up upon her. He GRABBED her strongly, held a knife to her throat, and shouted “DON’T SAY ANYTHING!” Mama was petrified. So she did the only thing she could think of. She shouted at the top of her lungs. And, being San Francisco in the 1970s, my mother was traveling with one of those big Mary Poppins-like umbrellas with the big wooden handles and sharp pointy ends. As she shouted, surprising her attacker (as most attackers assume that when they yell at you to be quiet and have a weapon, you will be quiet and obey), Mom was able to jab jab jab the attacker with her umbrella and get him off of her. Still screaming (probably quite hysterically at this time), Mom ran to the road, hopped in the back seat of a car that was driving down the road (and had stopped when he heard Mama scream), and locked all the car doors. She was not murdered, robbed, or raped. Mom stayed in the car (the driver was quite nice) until she got help from her brother (who lived an hour away) and the police. The attacker got away as far as I know, but my mother was safe. And she’d never taken a self-defense class in her life. And was wearing heels. AND was only 23. Pretty impressive.
Mom never told her parents the story. And I think the tale and Mama’s bravery has always stuck out in my mind. I’ve had some awful safety encounters myself in the past (stories for another time) and I think Mama has helped me to think with a clear head (for the most part) in dangerous situations and learn how to put my own safety first.
But last night caught me off my guard.
While walking in downtown St. Pete to a business dinner, traveling down a road I take every day, I received a big scare. As I neared my friend’s building two blocks from my own complex (and less than one block from the Hilton Downtown St. Pete), I received a heart-stopping shock. As I passed a bush, a homeless man jumped out at me, intentionally trying to scare me. Yes, the homeless man actually JUMPED OUT AT ME and giddily spooked me with his fingers splayed wide and a crazy lopsided grin on his face. His eyes were wide like saucers, hair askew, and there was a bad bad stench around him. Thankfully, he didn’t have good hand-eye coordination as he didn’t touch me when he jumped out. That, or he just intended to scare me. He was not one of our normal harmless homeless. (Unfortunately, being Florida, we still somehow have a fair amount of homeless on the street…it is one of my least favorite parts of living here.) And after scaring me the clearly intoxicated, smelly, and possibly drugged-out homeless man proceeded to harass me. I was afraid he would follow me. He called me names (and not pleasant or ones I will even write) and continued to yell at me as I tried to calmly, methodically, and QUICKLY make my way to the end of the block and across the street. My friend’s building lives there and I knew that she has a full-time security man. And my phone was in my hand. I was prepared to dial 911 if he followed me. I can still hear his creepy voice, see his outstretched hands, and smell his nasty odor.
Thankfully, he did not follow me, touch me, or further attack me. And his rude shouts ended when I crossed the street.
I never saw the homeless man except out of the corner of my eye. I took a different route home, so I don’t know if he was still there. But I hope never to see him again.
It was early. And I think my neighborhood is safe. Well, I know it *is* safe. But you can have crazies anywhere, that’s what Mama taught me. And you need to always be on the look-out and act calmly.
The homeless crazy weirdo wanted me to react. He wanted to engage me, to incite me, to get me to look at him or say something. Who knows what exactly he really wanted. But I acted calmly, I kept my brain on, I thought the scenario through and got out of a potentially sticky situation safely.
I think I will take a page from my mother’s book, however, and not tell my parents. And in this month of loving, I find it hard to love the homeless man. Right now I just feel sorrow and pity for him. Someone must be really messed up to do stuff like that. And I sincerely hope he did not scare or hurt anyone else. Maybe I should have called 911 and reported him? Did I do a grave injustice by not doing so? I made it to my work dinner on time and it was a wonderful and successful meeting. (One of the best I’ve ever had!) I don’t think it would have gone the same, had I been forced to deal with the police and arrived late. What do you think? There are always an infinite number of possibilities. And while I may not have reported the super duper creepy weirdo, I did what I had to do for me–which was go to work. I’m just lucky I have so much yoga and meditation experience that I was able to leave the incident behind as soon as I walked in the restaurant.
I hope I can find love for the poor homeless man, for my mother’s attacker in the 1970s, and all the generally scary and creepy people out there. And I hope I don’t have any more safety issues in my neighborhood ever again.
And I made blueberry scones for breakfast this morning. Because after a night like yesterday (I was nervous as all get out walking home via a different right), I think some blueberry goodness is just what the doctor ordered.
|MMMM. Trader Joe Blueberry goodness. Serve with clotted cream or, as I did, a side of Greek Yogurt!|
Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s frozen blueberry scones! Just take them out of the freezer, pop them in the oven for 30-40 minutes and, voila! Scones! (You can also top them with egg and sugar, but I am more a fan of the savory variety–the blueberries are sweet enough for me.)
If you have had a stressful night or just need a bit of extra self-love, I recommend the Trader Joe’s Blueberry Scones. Unlike the “scones” at Starbucks, Panera, and most massive chains, Mr. Joe puts big, juicy, PLUMP blueberries inside his scones. Lots of them. A blueberry burst in every bite.
Go ahead and treat yourself. I guarantee blueberries start the morning out beautifully!
|See the blueberries? And with only 310 calories per scone, you don’t have to feel guilty! Plus, no weird ingredients!|