20 May I love this world so much
As I write this, I am worried that no one is quite like me, while at the same time I am certain that no one is. I want someone to give me a nod of understanding as I speak and I recount my life.
Someone died on the corner where I live last week. I saw the ambulance come, but I didn’t know what the fuss was about. I only heard the reason for the fuss later. The fuss was about an old man who died. He went to sleep on the sidewalk and never woke up.
The next day, I went walking because I woke up tired and groggy after sleeping quite a while. Walking is how I fix groggy. On my walk, I saw another old man lying on some grass next to a sidewalk. I approached a parked AC Transit bus close by. I stared at the driver through the door. After a minute or so, the driver looked at me and held up four fingers, which meant she was leaving in 4 minutes.
After another minute, she opened the back doors of the otherwise empty vehicle. I saw that the front part of the bus was cordoned off with yellow tape from floor to ceiling, formed into a large X with a box around it. I stepped inside of the bus and pulled my mask down and asked, “how long has that man been laying on the ground?” She looked at me in the rear view mirror as I went on. “Someone died on the corner by where I live the other day after he fell asleep. He was an old man, and that is an old man.
She replied, “have you said anything to him?” I shrugged and walked out as she watched. I stood above the man as he lay motionless. I said, “how are you doing?” He stirred in his sleep. He was alive, but I didn’t know what else to do with one man on the street, among many. He remained asleep and I don’t know if he’s dead today.
He was black, and I’m black, and the bus driver was black, and I hate what I imagine privileged white people will feel as I am saying this. I am imagining pity. I just hate it. I ask the universe to transmute my hatred daily. Constantly. I do this for my own personal reasons having to do with healing. Anyway, I don’t regard what happens to us as acceptable any more than I would regard what might happen to someone that I know personally as acceptable.
And, I have many people from my past, including friends and family members that I am no longer in communication with, and I tell myself that I don’t know what to do with them other than distance myself from them for my own emotional health, and this is another story, or perhaps, it is the same story. And perhaps healing my own personal anger is part of the same story.
I passed the bus driver as I continued on my walk and I looked up at her as she looked at me. I shrugged and she nodded.
I remember how my own family’s response to having me live with them last year as I struggled to stay housed was to turn me down summarily.
I had put the old man by the bus out of my mind by the time I woke up the next morning feeling tired even though I slept ten hours. It was hard for me to get out of bed. Since the shelter-in-place orders, aside from feeling next to nothing, I have been feeling my mortality. I ate the coconut yogurt that I made several weeks prior. I very much wanted to douse it with honey, even thought I don’t need sugars for six or seven really good reasons having to do with my general health and my relatively even-minded brand of sanity.
Technically, the yogurt still tasted good, and technically, I slept long enough, so maybe all of this is hard, even though I won’t run out of money by the end of the month for the first time since longer than I care to admit.
Maybe the black jogger, Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, that those two men shot is weighing on me. Or maybe my reading about that black paramedic, Breonna Taylor, that the police shot in her home after trying to serve an arrest warrant on the wrong residence weighs on me.
Maybe this tiredness ought to be happening because tiredness is my only possible reaction to what I witness with the emotional tools that I possess.
I’m going to talk with my editor about the plot to the novel I’m writing. I say that to help me embrace that this is not always how I will feel because this is a mere snapshot in time.
I want to believe that this time in human history, along with this helpless feeling and this dread, will pass on as part of something divined by the living earth, perhaps. I’m taking it upon myself to go a piece of the way toward my personal recovery from the western culture in which I am immersed, as I witness it stumbling and falling down.
Some days, I say to myself, I love this world so much, I want to watch it burn.
I want this instant to be one of seeing without mindlessly circumventing what is inside of me or in front of me. I want this to be an instant of reacting to things like old men who sleep or die on sidewalks next to empty buses as I wonder and wonder (don’t stop wondering) what I need to do next.