He Scared Me to Death The First Time We Met

But he didn’t know I was raised to be ready.

Carmen Ballesteros

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Photo by Rafaëlla Waasdorp on Unsplash

It’s 5:30 am, and I’m waiting at the agreed meeting point.

I don’t know what he looks like or what he will wear, only that he will pick me up in a weird vehicle.

It’s one of those moments when one wonders, how the hell did I end up here?

A strange man stares at me from the distance. My whole body tenses up.

But he doesn’t know I’m ready. I’m always ready.

I wanted to feel safe alone at night, but life showed me better

Women worldwide learn very early to be scared of the streets at night.

There was a time I was pissed with my parents for being so protective.

Why can my brothers party longer than me? Why don’t they need ‘chaperones’ to come back home? I just want to be an independent and strong woman!

Then I started seeing little signs.

The way men looked at me in the streets. The — almost daily — news of women murdered or raped. Men shouting “compliments” to girls and women in the street. Or how the night taxi driver waits until I’m safe inside the building because he has a daughter and “knows how it feels.”

The message sinks in.

How couldn’t it? It feels like a global conspiracy to get us scared and learn a hard truth: The streets aren’t safe at night for women.

My introduction to sex wasn’t very romantic

My friend Silvi and I were 14. It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were going from my house to hers. The streets were deserted. You couldn’t expect less from a hot Sunday afternoon at siesta time in Spain.

A car stops, and the driver asks, “excuse me girls, do you know where I can find the orphanage?”

I know, weirdest question ever. We looked at each other in disbelief.

But someone looking for an orphanage must necessarily be a nice person, right? We debated where it could be. There was no Internet back then. We had to help each other.

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Carmen Ballesteros

Anthropologist, traveler and entrepreneurs coach. Serial optimist. Editor of https://medium.com/boarding-pass-to-the-world (where travelers & cultures connect)