Almost every woman who’s grown up in the twenty-first century (and plenty who grew up earlier) has entered early adulthood repeating one mantra: don’t walk alone at night. I started college at seventeen, and despite the sexual assault I’d already weathered, I couldn’t always bear to request company for my cross-campus trips to and from the music building. The world was so lovely at night; for an introvert like me, it seemed a shame to contaminate it with conversation when I could just enjoy the solitude and the quiet. When I absolutely couldn’t justify the risk of walking alone, I’d put someone on the phone and keep conversation the whole way home. It’s a time-honored tactic used by women everywhere as an insurance policy: if we’re assaulted, at least someone will know.
That said, with every time we do make it home without incident, it feels a little silly to be taking these precautions. So we get complacent, and sometimes we don’t bother calling people. And inevitably the universe reminds us why we do. I am both incredibly grateful I’ve not lived through an assault in adulthood like the one I lived through when I was young and incredibly sad that others’ suffering reminds me that I do need to take precautions against the things that go bump in the night. walking/I’m sorry, Mom plays with all of these concepts and more, but it borrows heavily from the concept of Schrödinger’s rapist, a term coined by novelist and private investigator Phaedra Starling to explain the dichotomy women are faced with when approached by any strange man. (To read more about this—and I absolutely suggest you do—read her original post here.)
[Performance notes available with the full score.]
walking/I’m sorry, Mom was commissioned by Tanner Pfeiffer for the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble at CalArts. It will be available for purchase on May 1, 2019.