The news of the death of Eurydice Dixon last week broke me quite a bit. As Laura Jean McKay said in this excellent piece for The Saturday Paper, 'I didn't know her in life, but in death she is all I can think about'.
I read about it in the afternoon, here on the other side of the world. Scrolling though the details online my hand went, involuntarily, to my mouth. Reading about it felt wounding. I was holding my mouth - holding my breath - as I read. I started crying and shaking with rage. I messaged a friend in Adelaide that was still awake, neither of us knowing what to say. I was at a loss for words, but so fucking full of feelings. Feelings that are still rattling around, and I don't know what to do with. I am so deeply saddened by it, thinking of it now has me crying again. I can't read her name without my heart sinking.
What I am finding in the aftermath though - and I use that term intentionally, for this is a trauma for her friends and family, for her community, and for all women - is that my anger is countered by my fear, and my exhaustion.
I keep wondering why this news broke me so much. This happens, quite literally, all the time. Women are dying at the hands of men across Australia, nearly 40 this year and it is barely solstice. Is it because she was young, white, someone I could know or could be? This is something I have to contend with, a particular kind of privilege I need to do better at working past.
Is it because she lived her life the way I do, the way so many nights I've messaged friends as I walked home, or those nights I forgot to? The nights I've not walked the main street home, but taken the back lane because it's easier and I've only had two wines and I shouldn't be so dramatic, but carried my keys in my hand anyway. Never listening to music, always alert. Never wearing heels, the click-clack too loud a call for a woman alone on a terraced street late at night. The inability to run, if need be.
I'm not going in to the times I've felt that need. The times I've been yelled at just for walking by myself, made to feel wholly and tremendously uncomfortable and scared. The times I've awkwardly smiled at arseholes at bars and on trains when I've really wanted to cry or shout and spit in their face. We all have these stories. This is what we mean when we say #metoo. The threat, for women, is pressing and present, always. It's exhausting. I am tired of it and I am angry about it.
It's the audacity of it, the blatant reminder of any man's ability to go after and take what he wants that scares me. I walk through the world thinking I'm in control, that I have choices and autonomy, but really it's a lie. I know it's a lie and knowing this again shatters me to think of. Hers is just terrible, tragic bad luck. To think of all the amazing things she had ahead of her, what the world could have experienced with such a brave, smart and funny woman making her way.
I cried again later that night, long after I had read the news. I had ordered a glass of wine at a small bar not far from my flat. Copenhagen has this glorious light, especially now in midsummer, and it was 8 or 9 and I was thinking about my walk home, through a park, past the church, along some sweet cobbled streets, another church, everything golden. I am fairly quiet most of the time, an introvert. Often the walk home, or the train ride alone is my favourite part of the day. It's when I can be solitary, completely myself and let my thoughts run away. But my walk home is one she will never be able to make again.
Eurydice Dixon has been killed and all I can do is 'take care' as I go about living my life? This is an enormous injustice, both to her memory and to my safety. There are no vigils for her here, so far away from that park and her home. Instead I think of her each evening as I walk, purposefully, noticing the light as I round each corner. Trying to find the light.
It's a week since I started writing this, and the sadness and anger haven't waned. I keep coming back to it, not knowing quite what I am trying to say. I'm still tired, but there is a new vigour to it all. I just don't know where to put these feelings, how to measure out my sadness and anger to make change.