I’m sitting on a brown upholstered chair on the edge of our green front lawn with my black bag beside me on a blue folding chair when a red dump truck comes down the street. The driver honks his horn and slows to a stop in front of me.
The passenger window descends, and the man inside, 40s or 50s wearing a buttoned uniform shirt, says to me with a smile, “You look so relaxed.”
“It’s a nice day,” I respond. And it is. The sun is out, but it’s not yet too hot. I’m seated in a spot shaded by my neighbor’s tree.
Contrary to the man’s assessment, though, I’m not relaxed.
It’s launch day for a week of major home renovations. HVAC technicians are already at work inside our house disassembling the heating and cooling system. I’m waiting on another set of workers who will remove old insulation from our attic.
I’m not sure where I should be while all this is happening. I’d started the morning with my chairs close to the house but then progressively moved them toward the street, which is how I end up talking to the man driving the truck.
“Whenever I see a beautiful woman I have to stop,” he says.
It seems more like a compliment than a catcall. And with other stressors on my plate, I don’t want to take the time to determine if this is a problematic street interaction that reinforces patriarchal norms and should be challenged. So instead I just thank him.
He rolls up his window and drives on.
I sit on the edge of the lawn marveling in my training as a woman–my ability to appear relaxed and even beautiful in the face of inner turmoil. Turmoil that eventually pushes me out of my chair and into my car on the street. Farther from the house and all that’s going on inside and barricaded from anyone that might drive by and call me beautiful.