31 July, 2008

Jaywalking (or Freewalking)

(In the sense of being naked as a jaybird, of course.)

I hadn't been outside in the past week or so (boy, it sounds pathetic when I put it that way), as I've been somewhat busy with a number of things. But I checked TWC (The Weather Channel, er, .com) on a whim tonight and was elated when I saw the current temp marked at 73 degrees. Anything over 70 in the deep of night is usually good for checking out. I was also a little frustrated with the photos I was shooting, not quite getting what I wanted, so I decided in the moment that it would be great just to go out and get a good walk.

It was comfortable - high humidity, but not overly warm (not that I would have minded a little bit more warmth), and the grass was a bit damp from earlier rains - but there wasn't much wetness. It was just about 2am when I went out, which is a pretty good time for a weeknight. Sporadic cloud covering and not much in the way of moonlight. Quiet, not a lot of house lights on up or down the street. I went out completely naked with no gear and covering (not even shoes), and I decided I'd go for that walk just the way I was. I was also feeling particularly ambitious, so I decided to go farther than the short block that I've done completely nude before. So you could definitely say I expanded my boundaries again tonight.

I went around the "long" block. All the way up to the 5-way intersection, a short stretch from the local main thoroughfare. About halfway there, a car did actually come down the road I was walking up, but I lucked out, as there was sufficient time and sufficient shrubbery right beside me to hide behind when I noticed the headlights coming over the crest of the hill. I was a little concerned about whether or not I'd be seen easily in the headlights, even behind the thick shrubbery, but I ducked down and the car passed and there was no incident. I never liked the idea of going onto people's property to hide, seeing as you never know what kind of defenses they might have, and also by entering their property, you're putting yourself in an even more delicate situation if you get caught. But the bush was there, and I felt like hiding, and it worked out just fine, I think. I got a little bit wet brushing up against the bush, but I only mention that in interest; it's not like it was any sort of problem.

So anyway, back to that 5-way intersection. A lot more street lights around that part, but I got lucky, and made the turn down the hill without any cars coming past. Although, a bunch of cars went through that intersection after me, which made me nervous, but I was down the hill at that point, and none of them came in my direction. Whew.

I certainly wasn't gonna head towards the thoroughfare - it was getting busy enough just where I was. So I went down the hill towards the elementary school. Which, is maybe an even more delicate area to be caught nearby, but it's the direction I wanted to go, and I was pretty confident in the lack of overnight traffic in that particular area, and really, it's not like I was/had plans of doing anything bad. I passed the corner of the school without incident, and made it back to the darker, more secluded streets, heading back towards home now, in a loop.

On my way back, another car crossed my path, and this time, though I had plenty of forewarning, it occurred at a spot where there wasn't anything to hide behind within close distance. I wasn't completely unprepared for a car passing me, but still, when it happens, you get jumpy. I didn't want to be completely exposed, so I sat down by the curb in front of a house that had their yard light on anyway, and just acted natural. The car went past me without incident, although there's no possible way they couldn't have seen me. I didn't try to pretend I wasn't there, but I didn't do anything odd either. The car passed, and to my horror, turned into a driveway up the road. I wondered, do they live there? When they get out of the car, are they going to ignore me, or do something? Should I just start walking away, or continue sitting there, as if it was no big deal? Well, it didn't take long for the car to pull out of the driveway, and start heading back in my direction.

I bet you're on the edge of your seat right now. Well, I was too. I considered the possibility that the driver was actually a cop, coming back to ask me a few questions. But at that point, I had pretty much steeled myself against the "getting caught" factor, and figured I could just reason myself out of any serious trouble. And if not, so be it. It's my innocence against the crooked justice system. Not much I can do but accept it.

Well anyway, there was a turnoff in the road right there, between me and the driveway the car turned into, and that's the road the car turned off onto, instead of coming back towards me. Was it just a case of missing the turn? Or was there something else going on? Was the driver so totally shocked at the sight he saw, that he just had to get a second glimpse, however brief, and from a distance, just to make sure he hadn't imagined it, or just been dreaming? or did he want to confirm the name of the street/location of the intersection, so that he could describe it to the cops when he got home? Who the hell knows, the car was gone, and I was up and continued walking, and nothing more came of it. Though of course by that time I was once again thinking about how much it sucks that I can't just do my own thing - which doesn't hurt anyone - without all this fear, anxiety and paranoia.

I thought about what might happen if I just went out in broad daylight, and walked around naked. I mean, really, what's the huge deal? Would people be more tolerant of it than I expect - seeing, as I do, that it's really not that big a deal? Suppose the reason people don't do it isn't because there's necessarily anything wrong with it, but just that it doesn't cross their mind as something they'd want to do. In other words, maybe this stigma that haunts me is just imagined.

I'm not that naive. But still, what would happen? People would get upset for seeing more than they want to see? Because they think I have evil, instead of pure, intentions, and it's their prerogative to turn me in to earn another merit badge from God? Because they think somehow their children will be spoiled for life for seeing the natural form of a human being, which they could see just as easily by looking in the bathroom mirror?

How much power, exactly, do people - individually or collectively - have in this world - in this country - to dictate the kind of life another person should lead, even if that person is doing no real harm to anyone? Do we really live in such a non-free world? I certainly believe it's possible. But I also feel like it needs to be tested. And if there really is no freedom, then that's something that should be brought to our attention. Because something needs to be done about it.

What would happen? People could complain - and simply because "they don't like it", the authoritative branch of this country's government would have all the permission they need to enforce their will against mine. So my liberty is being stripped away from me. What if I refuse to follow their conventions? Would I have to pay fines? They'd force me into poverty, so that I'd be a homeless bum roaming the streets - without even enough money to /own/ clothes. Is that what they'd do? They'd make money off of me? Could they put me in jail? At least then there'd be no denying that what it is they're doing is stripping my liberty away from me.

I'm not unfamiliar with that guy in the UK, the Naked Rambler or whatever he's called, who made a point to walk naked across the country(s). I think he's in jail currently. So it could happen. If I refuse to follow their ill-defined rules, I could end up in jail. Like Ghandi. Or something. Civil disobedience. I just can't see how I can be true to myself and continue to let them take my liberty away. As long as I'm out here, not in jail, I have the choice to live the way I want to. The only reason I don't is because I fear that jail cell.

And yet I was thinking today about how my life is a jail cell - a really nice one, and not particularly in the physical sense, but a psychological jail cell. Of my own making. Maybe being put in a jail cell of somebody else's making will help me define the boundaries between me and the rest of the world. Maybe it would put me in place. Some place. The best thing that could happen by roaming around naked and ignoring people's complaints would be an enforced mental therapy program. I need therapy. I know I need therapy. But I don't know where to go or how to get it. So maybe they could show me the way. Still, my therapy is for a different issue. It's for the bars /I/ put around me, not the one's /they/ put around me.

At least things would happen. Not this neverending stalemate.

Ironically, the only places in America that are truly free, are the places in which the government has no jurisdiction - and of course these are often hidden, fleeting places. Liberty is not compatible with justice for all. All this time, I thought my refusal to recite the pledge of allegiance was simply due to laziness (not to mention lack of desire to conform to the masses who all stand up in unison and recite the pledge day in and day out, or the fact that the pledge insists that there's some kind of connection between our country and God - oh there is one, but it only exists in people's minds, and overall, it makes the country a worse place), but I must have known subconsciously that it was just a hypocritical oath. I took one of those myspace-style tests recently to see how patriotic I was (cuz these things are obviously official), and I was expecting to be the total anti-patriot. But, to my surprise, I got the full score in patriotism! The test explained how it worked, and to my great satisfaction and approval, the patriotism score had nothing to do with one's pride for their country - the only thing that mattered was adherence to the ideals that the country was founded on. That just goes to show you how far we've fallen...

1 comment:

  1. You're quite a rebel, zharth. Standing around hoover buck naked? Intense. And a clever one at that. Leah would be in awe.