I was wearing white shorts with a floral print and a red scoop-neck t-shirt. On the back of my pink mountain bike, I strapped on with three bungee cords the books I’d checked out of the library so that I could ride the one mile home.
That mile was the link between the upper and middle class, where I pedaled uphill along Bonnie Brae (no irony in the “beautiful hill” Scottish Gaelic term) past art deco mansions of every size, shape, and square footage to the thrown-together tiny brick blocks that made up our middle-class neighborhood.
That mile was the mile I would cycle, walk, and drive home on years later when I worked in the ice cream shop across the street from the library, paying my way through college.
That mile, on that Wednesday afternoon in March nearly thirty years ago, will forever be imprinted in my memory. Never mind the sun–the constant sun that is Denver. Never mind that March is too soon for short shorts. Never mind that all I was trying to do was feed my need for reading. Never mind that my father was working right inside my house in the adjacent office that my uncle built for him, that he was writing a book about mountain biking in between layoffs.
I remember all of these details as if they were yesterday. Because it could have been yesterday.
I remember that my curly, frizzy hair was falling out of my helmet. That it was unseasonably warm. That there was almost no traffic on the road.
And I remember how bright red his sports car was. I will never forget that car. The two doors instead of four. The cherry-red shine. The rear wind spoiler jutting out of the back end, trying to force a speed too fast for any bicycle.
I remember the sound of the engine as the car revved several blocks ahead, made a u-turn, and circled back. The look in his eyes, the tongue halfway out of his mouth. The motions toward his lap.
Him driving ahead, circling back. Driving ahead, circling back.
The noon sun beat down on my racing heart as I made my way up that hill, as I tried to make that one mile home. A million thoughts rushed through my head: My greatest nightmare, getting kidnapped, is going to come true today! He’s going to kill me. He’s going to rape me. He’s going to follow me home and come back. He’s going to memorize where I live. He’s not going to leave.
Logic took over: I CAN’T let him see where I live.
But where would I go? I didn’t want him to follow me to my house, so on his last circle, when he was going back behind me and getting ready to turn around, I bolted into the alley of my block. There was a garage that I hid to the side of, pulling my bike as far from the alley as I could. I could feel every shaky breath pulsing through my lungs. I could taste the bile of fear that sat at the back of my tongue like a repulsive monster.
And then I heard the engine. Slower now. Too slow. In slow motion almost, as if the V-6 had fallen out six blocks back. He was grinning, making sure I looked directly into his eyes as his hand moved up and down. As the car crept along, broken of its chase.
He’d won. He’d found me. We were three houses from my house, from my father, a man who would never even conceive of the idea of doing this to a teenage girl.
And I was paralyzed. I was forced to lose my innocence in that sickening thirty seconds of my life.
It was nearly thirty years ago. It could have been yesterday.
You ask any victim. Any person who has been bullied. Chased. Pushed. Groped. Threatened. Beaten. Raped.
And they would say the same thing: like it happened yesterday.
Yes, I remember every detail. Yes, I know exactly how old I was, what my father was doing. Filing the police report. Describing the car. My father running out into the street thinking he could catch the guy. My embarrassment to tell anyone about it because it seemed so trivial.
The fear. I remember the fear like a fingerprint on my soul.
So don’t tell me this couldn’t have happened to Christine Blasey Ford. Don’t tell me she is making this up, and that “she couldn’t possibly remember” an event thirty-five years back.
Just like that red sports car that took off with a man who got away with it, Brett Kavanaugh is going to get away with this. He already has.
And now, on his bloody hands, on his heartless soul, are the lives of millions of people who will face that court and have a predator deciding their fate.
Millions of young girls. Millions of women. Millions of victims whose words mean nothing. Whose fear means nothing.
Millions of chances to turn this car around, rev up the engine, and be a better country. All lost.
We are all lost.