Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer suspicion season

My existence depends on people not paying attention. I live in people's neighborhoods, at their sufferance. As long as they don't notice me, I'm happy and safe. That's usually the case with suburbanites-- they're locked in their houses in front of the TV most of the time. And especially in winter, which is rainy season here in California.

But summer is the season of suburbanites stepping out of their houses for the first time in 9 months, and actually talking to each other. They finally start paying attention to what's going on... including my presence, and suddenly they don't like it.

This happens to me every summer. Last year it really rattled me. This year, I've gotten used to it. The solution that worked last year, and will probably work this year too, is simply to abandon my favorite spots and find new ones.

But when suburban suspicion hits, it really hits me like a punch in the stomach. It's very unsettling. And I've had three of these in the last week! First, in one of my favorite spots, two people were walking some dogs. The dogs were barking like crazy at my van. The man walking the dogs doesn't think it's any big deal. The woman walking with him is wondering why the dogs are freaking out. She asks him whose truck that is. He says, "Hmm, it's a commercial truck, but there's no sidepanel on it, could be anyone's, I don't know", and doesn't give it another thought. She's not buying it though. On the way back, the dogs freak out some more, and she says, "Wow, they keep wanting to look backwards". Yeah, at me, no doubt. I saw no reason to panic-- thanks to the man's utter lack of concern--, but I left the next morning, haven't been back, and won't be until fall, thank you very much.

Then two days later, another favorite spot, I park at like 10pm, and get ready for bed. As is my habit, I usually turn off my headlights and just use parking lights to park. And I hear someone saying, "It drove up with its lights off!" Great. In this case, I left immediately.

Then another couple days later, in a totally new spot in a somewhat more rural area that I rarely visit, I wake up from a nap to hear two neighbors talking to each other, and one guy says, "Something's not right about that truck." Then I hear the other one talking about blocking the street or sidewalk (I was parked same as everyone on that street), how technically something or other, etc. I left an hour later.

What's hard about this is that I feel like I'm getting beaten up, from all sides, and that there is nowhere I can be safe. I need to escape to a place where I'm not hated and feared. It is no fun to be hated and feared.

Last year I went camping, where I could pay for a parking space and be somewhere I had absolutely every right-- I paid for it!-- to be. And that took the anxiety off. And then I started just looking for new parking spots. I think that will work this year too, so off I will go.

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