Let me tell you about a short trip I remember, one of the many that I took when I was in my mid-teens (a time when The Thinker was still just a twinkle in her daddy's eye).
I was coming home from school, riding a jeepney, one of the legacies of the Americans (adapted by my ingenious and ingenuous countrymen), and a popular form of public transportation here in the Philippines. That particular trip, which I took once a week, would've normally taken an hour or so. But because of the circumstances of that particular ride, it lasted way less than that.
I was a freshman at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, staying in the university's freshman dormitory during the week. I didn't have classes on Wednesdays, so I would head on over to my parents' office (they had their own company) to spend the day with them. That particular morning started no differently from other Wednesday mornings. I boarded the jeepney and settled down for the journey. The vehicle was full, but that's a normal thing here, especially during rush hour, so I didn't think much about it. I just looked at the passing scenery and submerged myself in my thoughts--something I usually do on journeys.
After a while I felt something pressing against the right side of my chest. I tried to nudge it away, but realized in a split-second that something was wrong. I looked down and lo and behold, what did I see?
A palm pressing against me, covered by the big bag that the man sitting next to me had on his lap. The unvinvited, unwanted, invading hand curved somewhat to cup that part of my anatomy when he saw my face swinging towards him: my eyes agog, mouth opening and closing in shock like some bewildered, retarded fish.
Imagine this scenario, if you will. We have a female teenager (me) who had been living a mostly sheltered life prior to then, unexposed in large part to the evils of this world. Also, at that time, I had never had a boyfriend--never been kissed, never been touched, never been anything! And then here was this very ordinary-looking man cupping my right (non)boob! In some godforsaken jeepney on an otherwise unremarkable morning. And he wasn't even remotely cute. :-( (God, how I hate that word.) It was like my mind couldn't make a connection between what my eyes were seeing and the alien, unwelcome hand on my body. If this incident had happened to me now I would be raising hell. But I was different then--in the age of innocence, if you will. So I didn't make a fuss, just got down from that jeepney and boarded another one.
[Oh, as an aside, I think that a person who takes advantage of minors should have his balls cut off with a blunt, rusty knife and then shoved down his throat. Or alternatively, coated with the hottest wasabi or pepper in existence and pushed way, waaaaay up high and deep inside, where the sun don't shine.]
Anyway, we come to the point of this post. That trip left me relatively unscathed (apart from the nightmares I had about it). But all of us are on that bigger journey known as life, and though we may come across people who touch our privates uninvited, or we hit a big bump in the road, or get a flat tire, we have to find ways to deal with them and learn from them. Such things can happen on any journey, it's up to us how we deal with the unwanted and the unexpected. And I think we all should [celebrate!] make and take the most of what we can from this trip. Because, like it or not, the trip's going to end someday, baby.