I went to yoga in the morning yesterday like a real grownup & wandered around the Botanical Garden after (free on Tuesdays!) in the pale cool sun, looking at the blown roses, the fallen leaves red-gold against the bright grass.
What a luxury to breathe in deep the last faint scent of blooming, pocket a drift of petals. All around us pain aggregates, an abscess of fluid crusting over, breaking through, crusting over, breaking through, no clean scar for the fester when even the bone is rotten. All I want is to go around with the people I love and the people I would love if I knew them and keep them safe, burning from the inside out with the raw fear of how much danger tracks so many of my chosen family: police, real terrorists (drunk on whiteness, guns in their hands, guns in their pockets), governments; how can we ever learn to carry every day the simmering terror that at any moment a call will come, an email, I’m sorry to have to tell you. Why should any of us have to learn to carry this kind of pain. Why should any of us—
I’ve been crying in the wrong places, half-undone by the need to hold strangers as I pass them on the street, to say I love you, I love you, I’m sorry, please stay safe, please be safe, please. Is it really so much to ask that all kinds of human bodies be allowed to move around unharmed in the light. The other night a man followed me for a block singing lyrics of his own invention, an off-key litany of blood, very loud: murdering his neighbors, murdering the women who refused him (meant for me? I don’t know but it was dark and the block was the longest one I’ve walked in recent memory); why, I wanted to ask him, why do this, is your own heart so starved you can think only to gorge it on the fear of other people. Thinking: we are an ill-made species.
But yesterday after I lay in the grass at the gardens I went to Unveiling Visions, the Afrofuturism exhibit at the Schomburg Center: circled through story after story, painting after painting, song after song about black people as kings and queens amidst all the constellations, as cyborgs and pilots, as pioneers, as citizens of far planets, as protagonists, as free, of building palaces in distant galaxies in spite of, because of, sorrow, of daring to dream past suffering but not without it, what miracle these stories that both bear witness to trauma and give shape to hope. Sobbing like a child in front of a glass case of books while a little old lady (tourist) edged away from me, thinking here is the future, here is the future, here is the future: we can still tell stories. Perhaps we are not so badly made after all. We have at least this one piece of grace to carry with us as weapon, as shelter, as beacon, as promise.
What else is there to do? I don’t know. I’ve been reading Alia Mamdouh’s The Loved Ones and it is very beautiful, and Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation, which is funny in a way that hurts, and listening to the new Robert Galbraith audiobook when I run, I love those books (more than Harry Potter actually, don’t tell anyone) but this one has a lot of ladies getting cut up in it so I might have to give it up (J.K.R.!!! Why!!!!!). I read The Wolf Border and I liked it pretty well but not so well as The Electric Michaelangelo. Wolves though! Wolves, rare and wise, running in the mountains. Oh and that little Philip Pullman book about how Lee Scoresby met Iorek Byrnison, which is charming but hasn’t got Lyra in it so really what use is that. I’m going right now on my lunch break to meet my best friend’s baby for the first time. She said when he was very new all he did was sleep but now that he’s been around for a bit he can’t stop screaming. Yeah, I said, that sounds about right.
Take good care of each other, okay? Take care.