I wear the hood sometimes.
When I was in the East Coast, I learned that wearing a beanie with a hood offered the best cold protection. There, I discovered that I loved just being surrounded by soft cloth as I moved. It’s comfortable as if it was a barrier between me and the world. I see nothing except what’s in front of me.
But sometimes I wonder if I am seen differently because I am wearing a hood. The hood is from my REI-branded sweatshirt or light athletic jacket. With only a peek of my hair blowing out in the hood, I wonder if I am seen as female as I stroll (or saunter) down the street? Do they expect someone with dark skin to appear?
This evening, I decided to take 23rd up rather than the bright lit 24th from my friend’s place. I was tired of dodging around the hipsters, but I hesitated as I saw dark lone figures in the distance. Yet with my pace and my strange walking gait, I wondered if I looked as menacing as them. Did their hearts cower in fear as a figure approached them? Did their breath stop as they assessed the face for trouble or calm?
A police car approached me as I crossed the street. I reacted with surprise and stepped to the right as my face turned to study the driver. The police car made a swift U-turn. At the time, I thought that they were just circling the neighborhood, but did they notice me? Did they notice a figure in a hood walking fast in a gentrified neighborhood once known for high crime and gang activity? Did they notice that my profile was so low-risk and they turned away searching for the more dangerous figure?