Oh poppets. I am growing careless. Yesterday we locked me out of the Historical House. This was not so bad in itself except that before Christmas I lost my mobile phone. When I am stressed--and going to the local (and very ghastly) mall to buy all the provisions for Christmas Dinner was very stressful indeed--I tend to lose things. And, to add to the problem of being locked out of the H.H. and having lost my phone, I can't memorize mobile phone numbers. My brain cannot process numbers; I think I have numerical dyslexia, if there is such a thing. And therefore I could not call my husband, then in a pub watching Scotland play rugby against Ireland, when I discovered I had no key.
"No problem," I thought. "I will bang on the door of the H.H. manager, for she will let me in."
The manager was not home.
"No problem," I thought. "I will cross the fields to the neighbours, for they will give me a cup of tea and shelter and B.A.'s mobile phone number."
The neighbours were not home.
"No problem," I thought, although rather crossly now. "I will walk to the shore and take refuge in the hotel restaurant. Surely the rugby will be over soon."
I left a note for B.A. and went to the hotel. I had a pot of tea and cheese on toast and waited for B.A. to call. He did not, however. Seeing that it was nearly dark, and being afraid of walking through the woods in the dark (where in Toronto stranger rape happens), I rushed back in the twilight to the H.H. to wait for B.A. to come back. I sat in a niche in the aedicule under the balustrade, ready to chuck my missal through a window of the locked door should a rapist approach. (This would set off an alarm so mighty it would immediately summon an army of H.H.-protecting police, firefighters and curators, including B.A.)
It was much colder than I expected. It was also very dark. To while away the time I counted the airplanes and watched the clouds blow away gradually, revealing Orion in all his starry splendour. I listened to the trains pass, to sudden snatches of music, and to men's voices suddenly loud in the woods. Not having a watch, I did not know how late it was. But I did know that it was very cold and that surely the rugby game must be over. Soccer lasts 90 minutes. Surely rugby doesn't take that much longer?
It occured to me that although it is much warmer in southeastern Scotland than in southeastern Canada, it was still February. And it also occured to me that although B.A. said he'd be back after the rugby game, he never said exactly when. If he called the H.H. to say he'd be late, he might assume I was asleep and go on to another pub with our hard-drinking friends, and then another one, and then with them to dinner, and then stroll back at 2 AM, by which time I would be dead of cold or fright.
The Historical House is thickly ringed by woods. I would rather freeze to death than go through the woods at night. This is one thing men never seem to get about what it means to be a woman. Men worry about being raped in jail. The whole world after nightfall is woman's jail.
As really the safest place for me was in the aedicule, my missal at the ready to be chucked through the window, I stayed there, and I pondered the long string of careless actions that had led there. This would not have happened if I were Single because when I was Single I was a lot more careful. I planned in advance. I never left a house without checking for my key. I always had a route mapped out. I would never sit outside a semi-rural house in the dark waiting for hours for someone to come and let me in. I would never have let that happen.
In addition, I had a G.P., a dentist, my own bank account, a lawyer, and an entire network of professionals that I built up over twenty-odd years. Do I have that here? No.
When I was a Single woman, I was lot smarter about my basic survival. Now that I am Married, I've started getting slack about my basic survival. Maybe it's different if you have kids, because the kids' survival depends on your sense of survival. But if you get used to having a man to lean on, look out, because if suddenly he isn't there, you might topple over.
B.A. came home at eight, rather concerned that I hadn't answered the phone when he called at 7:15 or any time after that. The sun had set two hours and eighteen minutes before he arrived. I cried.