The Zero Mile Post marked the meeting of two railway lines and possibly the beginning of the city of Atlanta. Zero Mile is a series of sometimes fictionalized and sometimes real stories based on life in Atlanta, Georgia.
I have a giant golf ball size bump on my shin. I discovered it on Sunday night after a long weekend. I realized I hadn’t sat down since Friday afternoon, and now my shin is turning blue. The lump is a throbbing pain. Do you know how agonizing it is to get hit in your shin? Do you know how strange it is to have a bruise appear that you don’t remember getting?
I retrace my steps.
We went to festivals and birthday parties. There was soccer and more soccer in the pouring rain. We got drenched in the pouring rain, then the sun reappeared. I saw a rainbow.
I don’t remember getting hit by anything.
I carried lawn chairs and a cooler. I carried a tent. I walked with a book and a pack of magic markers. I have a weather proof blanket that folds into a bag. I drove my kids around. I visited my mom. It’s possible that the kids stepped on me. It’s possible that my mother swung a crowbar at my shin.
Whatever happened, I didn’t notice. I notice the pain now.
Maybe you are thinking, “Me too.”
Who has time to be hurt the moment it happens? I don’t. I keep moving.
It is the same for women everywhere who are faced with sexual harassment, violence, and inappropriate interactions. We’ve finally stopped to look at the bruise even if it was an incident that happened long ago. Even if it was a lifetime of incidents. Sometimes the hurt waits for us.
Every time I see a woman, I assume she is a #metoo. A woman could be proud and strong, and I know there was a moment when a man tried to challenge that strength.
For all the people posting “Me too,” I see you. I understand. I am “Me” and “Me too” and “Me three.”
We’ve all had an incident brushed off as “just joking.” When you are actually joking, you don’t have to say it. When you say, “just joking” I know you are deadly serious. I’m not worried about me anymore. I’m worried about you.
No one wants to talk about the “you.”
I see you.
You are our fathers and brother and husbands and best friends. It is easy to believe the perpetrators are presidents and billionaires and men with power to wield. What about my son on the playground? What about my husband in the years before I knew him? Can a person be a great father, but not a great man?
I don’t know.
Women are constantly spoken of with disdain. Have you ever ridiculed the color pink? I have. Have you mocked girly things and girly ways of doing things? I was a tomboy. I can’t tell you how often someone questions the literary value of the romance novels I read. In public, no less. I feel no shame.
You are the one who heaps shame on us. No wonder no one thinks our bodies matter. No wonder they respond to our complaints with “Don’t freak out.”
Well, let me freak you out for a moment.
I know why the men are silent. I know why even the “good” can barely muster the “I understand.” They are trying to do better, but for too long they have been complacent to locker room talk and jokes at our expense.
I’m not asking you to change your past.
I’m not asking you to understand.
I’m asking you to admit you’ve done these things however small, however large. And say you did it. And say you are sorry. “Me too” doesn’t create change, but it does create a voice and awareness. I’m thankful for that. I want the men to step up. Hashtag that. #idid #imsorry #iwontagain
Nicki Salcedo knows the loops and the back roads of Atlanta. She is a novelist, blogger and working mom. Zero Mile stories appear on the Atlanta Loop on Wednesdays.