The first time she came to Seattle she was drawn to Pioneer Square, one of the oldest parts of the city, right next to downtown. As she walked around, she felt a sense of isolation - even though it was a cold winters day, it was incredibly quiet for lunch time. She had expected to see workers wandering around during their lunch breaks. Instead, as she approached Occidental Place, she saw homeless men, huddled on the street corner asking for money.
As she wandered past the fancy art galleries she felt the sense of being followed. She glanced behind her - a few men close behind - no women in sight. She quickly thought she'd wander back to downtown, afraid that the men were catching up. Just as she did, one of the men shouted behind her, "Hey girl!" She kept walking, now faster. She turned behind, worried she was about to be bothered.
"Hey lady, I just wanted to say, you mustn't be from around here. You are dressed so nice. Just wanted to tell you that. And that I hope you have a nice day."
She let out a breath of relief. Thanked the man for his complement. Her perception began to change.
A year later she visited Pioneer Square with a friend from out of town, who she knew would appreciate the beautiful buildings. She would show her the viaduct which was one-day going to come down and open the area to the waterfront. She would show her the old totem poles. She would point out how crowded Occidental Place gets on game day. She was so excited to show her friend around.
On a sunny summers day they wandered, crossing from downtown into Pioneer Square. Within moments her friend stood still. She turned around and said to the girl with the red umbrella, "I don't like this place. I feel really scared. There's men staring at us as we walk this way. Can we please go back?"
As the girl with the red umbrella tried to reassure her, they were approached.
"How are you ladies today? You two look so pretty, I don't think you're from around here. I hope you have a great day enjoying the sunshine".