I started reading Lucky, by Alice Sebold. I picked it up at the library. I was in hurry, comme d'habitude, and I grabbed a bunch of books, including that one. I've pretty much given up buying books for now, because of my income situation. The library helps.
I grabbed Lucky because I knew some of the author's other work and liked it. I did not read about the book, did not read the blurb. I think I was thinking about that old joke, "Lost, 3-legged dog, castrated male, mange, blind in one eye, answers to the name 'Lucky'." The book ended up on the bottom of the pile, and I didn't think about it, and so I was surprised when I got down to it and it started out, "On the day that I was raped . . . "
It turns out that it's a memoir, nonfiction about the author's rape at the end of her freshman year of college at Syracuse University.
She was raped, forced to commit sodomy, beaten and robbed. The police told her she was "lucky" because the last girl who was raped in the amphitheater was killed. Alice was (obviously, since she wrote a book about it) not killed.
The rape took place in Thornden Park's amphitheater, where I have been many times, both as a student and as an adult. I'm familiar with the public safety building, the dorms, Marshall Street, and other places in the book. The book resonates.
I cried and cried. I have not finished the book, I've barely begun it. But I am lucky, because I too was raped in the Syracuse area at the end of my freshman year in college. I too was not killed. Because I was also not beaten, I am luckier still.
Somehow, I do not feel lucky. I feel kind of like that lost three-legged castrated dog, blind in one eye. But I'll answer to the name "Lucky," because it's better than the alternative.
Alice told her parents. I told no one. Alice told the police. I did not.
When I finally did go to Rape Crisis, they turned me away. My rape wasn't fresh enough and there were too many current rapes to deal with.
For me, that single event changed my entire life and in spite of all my efforts to heal myself and be fully human and to not hold against all men what one man did, the echoes of that rape in 1965 still reverberate through my life.
Sometimes, my husband still has to remind me, "I'm not that man."
Sometimes, I am terrified of men.
Sometimes, I am angry.
Rape is soul-wrenching. If you would like to know how I feel, read Alice Sebold's book. I don't feel exactly like that, but it's closer than anything else I know.
Here is the scary thing. Many of my friends have also been raped. Why is this war being waged against girls and women? Some have had it worse than I have. Much worse. I am lucky. We, the living, are the lucky ones. I hate to think of all the others, the ones who were murdered after being raped. Yes, we are lucky. Now, if only we can find our way home.