Over the past four+ years, my mile walk to the downtown coffee shop has helped me get clear, frequently supplied inspiration, and even given me a few opportunities for pleasant interactions; I look forward to these walks. As often as I've made this trip, a cynic or pessimist might say my experience today was overdue. Though that may be so, it made it no less disturbing for me.
Aside from a 100 yard stretch from my home to the end of the street, and about the same distance once downtown to the coffee shop, the entire route I routinely walk is on one street. Soon after getting on that street today heading home, I noticed two adolescent girls leisurely walking about 30 yards in front of me. Because my pace at first was slightly quicker, I was slowly gaining on them; I noticed one as she turned around to look my direction. I thought nothing of it and about a minute or two later the other did the same. And I would likely have not given that a second thought either until they broke into a run and put more distance between us. I immediately slowed my pace and began keeping my head down. Then it got sadder.
Although more than 50 yards now separated the three of us and I was moving slower and had already considered changing my route to an adjacent street so I would not continue to remain behind them, at one point I looked up and saw at least one of them look in my direction again before they began running a second time. At the first place where that street takes a slight bend (about 75% of the way to my home), with them out of my sight, me out of theirs, I stopped in my tracks and let several minutes pass. When I resumed walking the girls were nowhere to be seen. I was relieved and disturbed in equal measure.
In the hours since, I've tried to distract myself, including trying to blog about something lighter. But my mind remains fixed on the image of those girls running. Am I over-reacting? I'm as unsure about that as I am sure of this - next time, I'll slow down sooner.