6th grade. I barely understood my body and what was happening to it. I barely understood myself as a person, as a woman, as a voice in the world. I was always a quiet, shy kid who observed life, watched others and formed my own opinions. I was incredibly independent in that I loved being outside playing with friends until my mom would call me in for dinner. I always told my parents where I was going and who I was going with … it came naturally for me … I never gave them any pushback about it.
That 6th grade school year they changed the location of the bus stop. Instead of it being at the stop sign at the end of the dead end street we lived on, it was further up the street at the next stop sign. I grumbled and complained about it because it was a further walk, but I survived.
In between that stop sign and my house there was a neighbor by the name of Mr. Alvey. Everyday when I was walking home he was usually sitting on his front porch and he would wave to me. I would wave back because he was a neighbor, he seemed nice and I wanted to be polite. As the school year progressed he asked my name and I told him and then I asked his name and me told me. He started to invite me to come to the end of his drive way to talk. He would ask me how school was and if I needed to get home right away. He asked which house was mine. I gladly answered his questions and these conversations would last no longer than 5-10 minutes and then I would be on my way. He then progressed to inviting me up on to his porch where he sat. I often wondered where his wife was and why he was home at 4 o’clock in the afternoon …. But I didn’t ask those questions.
One day while I was on Mr. Alvey’s porch, he invited me to give him a kiss on the cheek. I thought that was an odd request. He wasn’t my dad and my dad was the only man that I kissed on the cheek. I declined at first but he kept asking and in order to get away from him I relented …. And then one day he asked me to kiss him on the lips. I left the porch that day not feeling so great about this situation that I found myself in, but I said nothing to my parents about it.
One day while I was on Mr. Alvey’s porch he asked me if I liked horses. I told him they were ok and then he invited me inside his house to see some pictures of horses. I had a really odd feeling and I told him No, that I had to get home and help my mom today. That was the first time that I used my voice and that was the first time that I trusted myself. I left and went home.
A few days after that I found myself playing with some girl’s in my neighborhood and one of them asked us if we liked Mr. Alvey. I said that he seemed nice and I talk to him while walking home from school. A couple of the other girls said that they didn’t like him because he wanted them to kiss him and they didn’t want to do that. Then the girl what asked about Mr. Alvey asked the rest of us if we kissed him. I lied and said No, I don’t. All the other girls said No as well.
After that meeting of sorts with the neighborhood girls I began to take a different way home…. Sometimes a longer way …. Sometimes the back way …. And sometimes right by Mr. Alvey’s house where I just stayed on the street and waved and said I had to get home right away.
Thinking about these events 30+ years later I came to realize what Mr. Alvey was doing to me that school year. He was grooming me. He was nice and I genuinely liked him, but I have a feeling I know what would have happened if I had gone inside his house that day. He would have showed me much more than horse photos. I still wonder about the girl who spoke up that day …. I can’t remember her name, but I wonder if she was a victim. I wonder if he had any victims in that neighborhood or sometimes I wonder how many victims he had.
I don’t know anything else about him, but the imprint he left on me is huge. In the 6th grade, I learned to trust my gut feelings and I learned that I should never be afraid to say No. I feel lucky this grooming didn’t escalate on the day that I said No. He could have easily grabbed me and forced me into the house …. There was no one else around. I NEVER told anyone about Mr. Alvey …. Not even my best friend of 30+ years. But this year, the 50th year that I have been on this planet, I decided that it was time to be gentler with myself and part of that is letting this story out into the world and letting go of any guilty feelings that I have connected to it. I am strong, I am free and I have the right to say No.