Dear –

Dear -,

The thing is, I don’t exactly know who I’m writing to here. That dash, it represents the cliff my thoughts sit at the edge of, the screeching halt of my words. The fear, perhaps, that if I let my words topple over today, friendships, peace, will be ruined in the fall. My reputation too, as someone nice. Reasonable. A delight.

I got called that the other day by a bigot. I loved him, and I wanted to cry.

When did you become so angry?

Someone asked me that too, another, other day this week. And I wanted to say, I’ve never not been angry, you fool. Have you never really known me at all?

Mostly, I wanted to cry.

So this letter. The fashion made of an open ‘Dear -’. But exactly who is my Dear today? What do I most want to say?

Perhaps – I’m writing to election morning. A mourning. You should have seen me that day! Jet-lagged, awake since 4am. I can’t stop crying! I messaged that phrase all over the world, watching women put stickers on Susan B A’s grave, reading story after daughter’s story on the miracle that is Pantsuit Nation. All the while thinking – here’s the thing, the secret thing – that perhaps I could do that, too. Bring a child into this world I’ve been waiting for.

I can’t.

And so. Maybe I’m writing to election night instead. The sun and the numbers sinking. One of the worst nights of my life so far. Being the one who had to say she can’t win. I’m so sorry. Over and over.

It’s over.

I can’t.

A friend sobbing down the phone. Messages from another, terrified, so raw, so painful, so possible in this new reality that I broke apart. I don’t remember much more from there, from that heart-punching, dizzying point of her pain. Though my phone and Facebook records tell me I raged in a way I’ve never raged before.

I feel sure you will see that again.

She said, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. So maybe this letter should go to HRC instead. To Hillz. My Her.

I’ve always been with you, Madam President.

I heard you say at your campaign launch, quiet, private, in Eleanor’s ear – we’re going to get there. It’s going to be long and hard, but we’ll get there. And I believed you. I do believe you. I didn’t know what to say then, and now – … and now. I’m so sorry. I believe you. Know this. You changed my life. Over and over and over.

You changed my life. I should have said.

It isn’t over, by the way.

I could write the rest of this letter to 15 year old me, I suppose. Whole books are dedicated to that particular self, after-all. As if she (or he) is somehow separate to who you are now, to what you now know. But I’m not separate to that 15 year old me at all. I am her. I am now. Less and more and just the same as I was at the age that I ‘met’ her.

The way she kept her name. The things she knew and did and said and was. The way he looked at her. The – ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton

Image credit: Harry Benson, 1992

I kept this picture in a shoebox under my bed back then. It said something I couldn’t quite understand – but would.

And do.

You were desired for your brilliant mind, HRC. And you desired that brilliance in return.

I’ve always been with you. I’ve always been there.

And now I’m crying again.

So maybe this letter goes out to anyone who knows what this means. To every single one of you who reached out to me this week, with your love and your fear and your anger and sadness. With your LOVE most of all. We lit up the whole world, you know that? I could make constellations with the map of you and you and you and you coming together. I love you. I could not ever say how very much, and so –

I think I might be writing to the people who didn’t. To the ones who broke my heart by staying silent so long that I knew. I know. A thousand words typed out to ask – and I’ve deleted every single question. But still. I know. I knew.

I know.

Things are so very, very broken between us. And I’m not the (whiny, safe space) one who has to repair them.

This used to be my home.

It’s not. Right? Right. Turns out, I’m mostly writing to you, my dear America. To your beautiful, to your spacious skies and your closing borders. Our land of – what, now exactly is it? Free and brave? Not so. Not now. I’ve loved you deeply since I was five years old. I’ve studied your government, your history, and your people. I’ve believed in you my whole damn life.

And I don’t believe you anymore.

America. My dear, dear America.

Dear America. What have you done?

crying-statue-of-liberty

“And then I explain to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” ~ Eli Wiesel, Nobel Prize Speech, 1986

And this to close it out. My words could never come close to this. I’m With Her:

With love and directed anger. Now find your team and get to work xxx

She’s Someone (let me remind)

She's Someone Image

She’s someone. Your sister, mother, daughter, yes. But more than that – she’s someone. She has a line deep in her bones that takes us back. And she doesn’t belong to you, or with … she’s someone.

You can carve her up, invade her – she’s someone. You can lift your virgins and trample your whores. She’s someone. She has a name not yours to revise … she’s someone.

You can call her a gift then give her away. She’s someone. You can mine for her diamonds then disgust that she shines. You can trade her and blame her but let me remind … she’s someone.

She. Is. Someone. On every continent you raise your flag – she’s someone. Underneath your gaze and your book she is someone. When you shout her down she is someone. When you order her body with gavels and clocks … she’s someone.

Revered. Desired. Punished. Reviled

You have too long chosen and called her mine. When she’s someone. She doesn’t belong to you, or with. This woman, this girl – let me remind …

She’s someone.


rockwithher

Eidyia’s Note: I first posted this back in July, 2013. Something or other would have happened in the news to prompt it. Too many examples, too many possibilities to recognize which misogynistic to and fro it referred to back then. The meme that inspired my post has been doing the rounds once again, thanks to that leaked tape. The original, unaltered meme may have been well-intentioned, but we’re beyond that, right? We understand that a woman – a person! – has value no matter her relationship to others. And that what happens to her matters not when it impacts you and your, but because she’s impacted, now. Peace, love and critical thinking to you all today xxx

Imagine If …

holding-hands

Last week I got to spend an evening with the five-year old son of my dearest friend. It was a rare and special few hours of one on one time with L, this earnest, clever kid with his little corn-teeth smile and a shock of sandy hair he likes to push back from his face any time his thoughts come too fast.

L has two big brothers, and a little sister too, so it was extra special to take some time out together, just the two of us. We checked out the Christmas windows in the mall and visited Santa’s Village to see the giant lit-up Christmas tree. We ate burnt maple syrup crepes and sat in the gutter to watch a light show play across the Town Hall facade. All the while discussing the really important things. How does Santa get around the world so successfully? What if you lived on the moon, would he find you there? How many reindeer actually are there, and what  makes them fly? (the answer apparently is magic dust).

We also spent considerable time beginning our sentences with imagine if … Imagine if I swallowed all of this ice and it created a giant puddle in my chest! Imagine if we could actually feel the world spinning! Imagine if we went to the top of that tower and we were higher than the whole city! Imagine if that sound of children singing Deck The Halls is actually coming from tiny, tiny people who live in the Christmas trees, and they’re serenading us from between branches?! I think I can see them waving!

Imagine if.

So much wonder in that little brain of his, fizzing and sparking away. Everything a possibility, everything just a little bit magical. Imagine if we looked at the world like this, always.

Imagine if.

Imagine if it were L.

This is all I could think about on Saturday when I woke to the news of the Newtown tragedy. When it soon became clear that so many of the victims were children close to L’s age. Imagine if it were L. I thought of his soft, sticky hand in mine as we navigated the night-busy city streets, the shyness when he tried on his newly acquired reindeer antlers, the way he said I’ll wait until it gets dark because he’s old enough now for self-awareness, and the self-consciousness that comes with it, too. I thought of the maze at Santa’s Village, how L said you go that way and I’ll go this way, and of my instinct-reply that we should stick together because I don’t want to lose you, kid.

I thought of all this, and I cried the entire day.

When President Obama made his heart-constricting speech on the afternoon of the tragedy, he was clearly moved and struggling for composure. In this speechBarackObamaNewtown he said I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. He’s right, of course. But I’d like to add that you don’t need to be a parent to feel that grief, to tap into the collective pain and to find yourself over-whelmed by the loss of those twenty little people and the adults who died trying to protect them. You only have to imagine if.

Imagine if it were your sister or brother, your niece or nephew, your godchild, your friend. Imagine if you got that call, the one that says something has happened down at the school this morning and you knew before they even told you, because it’s happened before, this kind of thing. The scale, the loss might be different this time, but the story is the same. There have been 16 mass shootings across the US in the five years since Virginia Tech in 2007. The victims have included politicians, university students, movie-goers and yes, children. But now 20 of them, in one horrific morning. Imagine if it were your turn to be at the centre of it.

And harder still, something you can only edge up to because it hurts too much. Imagine what those 6 and 7 year olds experienced  – the ones who lost their lives, and the survivors too. Early on I read of a little boy who started running when the shooting began, who kept running until they found him a full kilometre away. I can’t verify the story but it’s what I see when I think of this day. I see a little, terrified boy who is running away from something he couldn’t imagine. He looks like L in my mind, he is the same age, he has the same frame. It makes me cry all over again.

But I’m also mad. Furious. Stand on the roof and scream it out loud furious. How many shootings does it take? How many times do we have to watch and read of parents collapsing with grief when they see their child’s name on that list? How many times do we have to count the names of those who have been murdered by  civilians with fucking military-grade weapons in their hands?

The ostrich-ing began on Facebook almost as soon as the news hit. The inane guns don’t kill people slogan and the comparisons with cars and knives and forks (yes, knives and forks people, because apparently supporting gun control is like blaming cutlery for making a person fat). Analogies lazy at best, completely ignorant and dangerous at worst. They present simplistic arguments, relying on a most superficial logic. People wilfully ignore the express function of assault weapons such as the AR-15 – used to such devastating effect in both Colorado and Newtown – and instead talk incessantly of law-abiding citizens and self-defence as if they can easily and definitively separate the good guys from the bad guys, as if most of the mass shootings of the last decade weren’t carried out by citizens who were themselves until that day law-abiding. Law-abiding citizens with access to guns that can fire off two hundred rounds per minute.

There is such identity tied up in the right to bear arms. And the arguments against gun control seem to perpetuate, even idealise, a culture of us and themIf you take our guns away we will be at the mercy of them – this shadowy, un-named other just waiting take away what is rightfully yours and mine. I never understood it, and I don’t understand it now. I’ve lived in dangerous places around the world, including developing countries where democracy and order teeter on a daily basis. But no place seems more dangerous now than an America that will not examine its ideals.

Imagine if.

Imagine if the Assault Weapon ban of 1994 (a ‘sad era’ said the NRA) had held for longer than a decade, and allowed for a real cultural shift. Imagine if after Columbine the US, both the Government and its communities, had worked decisively and across political lines to address the issues of mass shootings (you can read about how Scotland addressed it here, and how my adopted country Australia addressed it here). And yes, those of you who rightly mention lack of mental health support as a huge factor in these tragedies, imagine if people who needed help could access it as freely and with as much constitutional protections as they can currently access a gun. But it is the gun than enabled a troubled and isolated young man to murder his mother, 6 teachers and 20 1st graders on Friday morning.

Imagine if. Imagine if those 20 little ones got to go home on Friday afternoon when the final bell rang.

I think of L, I’ve thought of him all weekend. I think of seeing his name on a list, of seeing his little earnest face staring out from a news site photo gallery that counts the dead. It breaks apart my heart. And I’m only imagining if.

Newton Victims

“Go stop being strangers to each other” – Maggie Koerth-Baker