Tall like a Tree
Last year, I wrote a New Years post and it reads like a raw wound. It reads like terror — and indeed, I was awash in terror last year at this time. Few people know this, but I was illegally evicted from my house, where I live with my son, in December of 2016. The eviction was catalyzed by both normal outdoor accoutrements of my single motherhood (like sidewalk chalk and a stroller) and the Black Lives Matter sign that I placed in my front window. At this time last year, I was frantically trying to understand landlord-tenant laws in Washington State and the City of Seattle. Finally, after weeks of anxiety and panic, I found the right people in the right offices in the City of Seattle. I fought the illegal eviction with the Department of Construction and Inspection and the Office of Civil Rights.
I won that fight and I am still in that house.
I do not intend to make the metaphor between house-to-country, eviction-to-Trump, personal-to-collective trauma. Honestly, I make that connection constantly in my writing and I think I need to stop. More than one thing happens at the same time. The personal is not collective. It is personal.
But I do intend to say that there are ripples and tides between the personal and the collective. Our wounds, our personal hurts — they are portals to the experiences of others. They are gifts of grace that you would never, ever want to have chosen. They are time machines and sailing ships.
This has been a year of sex and death. A year when words mattered more than anything. A year of sacrifice which bled me dry in the streets, until I limped home to recoup the energy of, what felt like at the time, a thousand suns. I have raged like a furnace, drinking beer in bars with other women and cracking dark jokes in staccato, until the grief welled up around us again and we were silenced.
I do not want to be silenced. I want the world to be different.
A year ago, I asked this question: What does the messy business of life, with all the dirty diapers and unread emails and unscooped litter boxes, look like under extraordinary circumstances? I have the answer to this question: it still looks like life, but there is a helluvalot more anxiety and the sex is better.
I am not here to peddle hope or sustenance. I am not here to fight. I am not here to heal the brokenness or provide moral clarity. I am not a beacon or a signal.
I am just here because it’s beautiful. And it’s ours for a short time.
All my love, for everything and everyone,