To the young woman who travels

February 18, 2019

I know that when you planned this journey

(like you did so many others)

You were filled with a calm, self-assured air,

You knew that this time would be no different -

The same monotonous transport, currency and every-day exchanges

Just all with a different backdrop, in a different language.

I know that you tried your best not to worry,

Begging all inflammatory thoughts to stay put at the back of your mind.

“Stay,” you said. “Allow me to go”.

 

And yet this time I must

(despite my hesitation)

Warn you.

You have gone too far down this road,

Grown too sure of yourself.

I must remind you of what you have with such effort sought to forget.

Forgive me -

But in so doing I regret nothing.

 

Remember that even though times have changed,

Even though what used to be acceptable now isn’t,

Even though you have the means to fight back if necessary -

 

You are still a young woman.

 

Be aware that what you wear matters.

How you say things matters.

The way you look at people matters.

 

Be aware that when you’re walking down a street,

Especially when it’s empty,

Especially when it’s getting dark,

You are not safe.

 

Be aware that you can’t just ask anybody on the street for directions,

You can’t just go anywhere without being noticed,

You can’t just wear anything without getting a comment.

 

I know it’s tiring to live under the constant watch of others.

I know it’s frustrating to care about something that has been “fixed”, is taken care of.

I know that you want to overcome this, surpass this, be the example of the future.

 

And yet this time

(though I like the world that you create for yourself)

I’d like to advise you.

I worry, you know.

And even though I’m proud of your confidence,

That confidence that hides behind it so much fear and mistrust,

Even though I want you to live your life freely,

I must put in my word.

 

Be careful.

Please.

You are not as safe as you hope you are.

 

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Geneva, Switzerland