You know, don’t you. Have always known. That it won’t be happiness that ends it. You learnt this many years ago. When, in some other loss, some other love, you discovered there’s no seducing sadness.
This is how you will lose him.
A small or sudden sorrow that separates. No crawling on your belly back. The distance, suddenly, too far.
Ruins to most people. But really, ruins are just evidence, aren’t they? That’s what you asked him once. Thinking about bridges, and wild weather, and washing away. But storms are easy. You see that now. You could swim across that suffering.
But this. This quiet, calm. The questioning. The way you can’t be his answer now. This is how you will lose him.
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.
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.
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 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.
I kept this picture in a shoebox under my bed back then. It said something I couldn’t quite understand – but would.
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.
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?
“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:
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 …
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
I’ve been here before. Recognising that happening under the skin. The visceral confession that precedes, concedes. Thinking – hand to chest – I found you.
To be two in seven billion. Thinking – perhaps – you found me, too.
I’ve been wrong before. I’ve misconstrued. And now. This forgetting heart of mine, she’s made and remembered. New old mistakes to drink away. To somehow, some day think away. Searching again for words, for wisdom and witches.
One or two or five or seven. So many ways to ritualise. But not so many to exorcise those familiar feelings, familiar failings. Yes. This foolish heart of mine reluctantly knows. That there’s still more swimming and scrambling to go.
Try, they say.
To arrive at last, Rock – first a ritual for letting go.
Note: this post is as much about the odd trajectory of my writing career as it is about love and the usual subjects. How not to get weighed down by the past, but not forget it either. And a reminder that there is no quick-fix, magic-wand way to transform your situation. The only ritual that works for that is, well – work.
Would you do it all again? If. If you had the chance to go back with what you now know, with what you’ve gained from all of that losing. Would you use what you have to change what you had?
Would you start with the girl drinking tequila from the bottle, the way she thinks his absence is something she’s done, the way she tries to undo it when he walks in the door.
Would you say it’s not cake if it’s just crumbs and stop her from taking that bite?
Or would you whisper in her ear that it’s just life after-all and say Go! Tell her to live her life and then write it? Because it’s all there on that very first night, the little addictions, the tiny cravings. The way she finds a relief in transgression. She is barely out of her teens but she already knows.
That most of what she meets will ask her to break it.
Would you do it all again? If. If it were to turn out exactly the same. Would you tell her to say Yes! to the men who invite her in then lock her out? Would you let her become nothing but impulse and twitch under the skin, let her lose her layers one by one in their arms?
Or would you tell her love this one a little more – and love that one so much less. Would you tell her that it doesn’t get easier than this. That her eyes are on stars while they all look down. And they’ll only ever want what she sees.
Would you do it all again? If. If it led to this?
Found this piece I wrote more than three years ago. Still not sure what ‘it’ led to, ha. Not easy to live without regret – perhaps that’s not even the point in the end. Might be more about living *with* regret and accepting it’s the mistakes that make you …
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” ~ Henry David Thoreau