North second

I was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s state capital, today.

I’d been there countless times before, and this time, I felt strangely uncomfortable. Maybe it was my not-warm-enough clothing or the clouds in the sky or the quiet on the streets.

Men gave me stares that held the same intensity as the hard-city glare I gave back to them that I hate giving but give anyway out of a fear I can’t touch.

I was standing on a corner, waiting for the orange light to switch to the white light. Walked across the street. Walked down the sidewalk. Averted the gaze of a shopkeeper.

And then a young man with an urban style made eye contact with me.

“Your outfit looks nice,” he said. Not intimidating. Honest. “You look very pretty.”

I stammer and don’t know why. I say thank you, and I mean it.

I look back at him and notice his University of Florida backpack. Walk across the street. Wait for the white light.