Her eyeliner and mine were identical. We saw each other and we knew- “you’re Venezuelan.” Our accents confirmed. We started talking about home at lightning speed; each confident the other was following. It felt easy and comfortable. Then reality hit- she needed STI screening, and she happened to work in the sex industry.
I looked into her eye-lined eyes and said- “You are so brave”
I wasn’t brave though. I was dying to ask her a million questions, all of which likely reflect my own personal view of her job- why leave Venezuela and come to the DR to work in the sex industry? Who protected her from men wanting to harm her? Did she have a safe place at the end of the day?
I asked none of these questions. And the truth is- I have no idea if she would have answered them but I denied her the chance to tell her story that day. Why? I saw too much of myself in her I think, and it terrified me.
“You are so lucky to have a profession” she said before leaving, looking straight into my eye-lined eyes.