Scrapbook

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Claude Monet – Haystacks Series

The floor is old linoleum and the mats I don’t think have ever been cleaned. But here we are, kneeling down on them anyway, rubbing our palms on our pants and mopping up a puddle of glass cleaner. The shift is coming to a quiet end, the steady stream of customers is no more, and I ask her what she did at university. I pull it out of my mouth like I’ve only just thought to ask, hoping that interest can pass for sincerity. She hands me another parcel of paper towel, and tells me like she could see the question boiling in me the whole time, and had been preparing an answer.

We are actors, reciting lines to each other.

I want to ask her questions that she doesn’t have prepared answers for. I want to sit with her on this floor and ask her what she’s scared of, I want to ask her where she went to high school, how she flies in dreams, what she wanted to be when she was four, where she grew up.

But I don’t.

Instead I wonder if she thinks about me when she’s at home. Because I think about her. I think about all of them. I imagine their lives. I wonder who’s living with their parents, I wonder who’s in love, I wonder who is terrified of the future, I wonder who’s cleaning their kitchen like I am right now. My coworkers are like inherited, unfinished scrapbooks. I try to finish the run-on sentences, scribble updates in appearance onto the photos in permanent marker, but I can never seem to find anything isn’t skin deep.

I attend to customers and she balances the books beside me. And she’s not even two feet away from me, but it feels like an ocean. I feel like if I just reach out I could feel the cold pane of glass that keeps us separate. I feel like all we can do is sit beside it. All I can do is gesture and mouth comfortable words in hope of a response.

But I want to take the chair and smash it. I want to tell her things like “lets go get a coffee” and “lets be friends like when we were kids” and “text me sometime, tell me about yourself.” But I don’t and she doesn’t. And instead we pretend to be the interviewers and interviewees of a job that doesn’t exist. And then we go home.

I’m sitting in the backseat of a car in Virginia. We’ve just gotten off a flight from Heathrow, it’s dark outside, and I don’t recognize the trees. These are not my trees. This is not my highway; this is not my land. So I rest my head against the windowpane, and listen to mum unravel the driver. She receives her scrapbook like a detective receives a case file, she studies it’s contents and finds a comfortable space to begin.

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Gas – Edward Hopper

He’s young, he’s got kids, he wants to go to war, he probably won’t vote in the coming election, he’s making ends meet, and he loves his wife. They lead each other like a curator leading an interested attendee through an art gallery. Questions are being asked and answered, and they go in directions he might not have thought to venture. But venture they do. And it’s an education in humanity.

I ask a woman what she did this morning. I fiddle with her bags, and negotiate with her mandarins. She smiles. She tells me that she’s been cleaning. Her hair is short, and her earrings are artisanal, and she tells me a story. It worms out of her mouth and she offers it to me like an inadequate, but heartfelt gift. She tells me how when she was a child her mother worked full time like she’s following a trail she left for herself so that she wouldn’t forget.

She smiles as though she sees though me and into her past. She tells me how every Friday her mother would clean their house for the weekend. Every Friday, without fail. She describes how her mother would scrub the floors by hand; she describes coming home from school to find her mother weeping into the floorboards. And we laugh sadly together at how far she has come.

I tell her about my parents, about my sisters. It spills out of me like an overflowing glass and I let it. So I tell her about how when I was little mum would go on business trips and dad would feed us hotdogs, and pies and chips, and spaghetti. I tell her about how the day before she came home he would always clean the house so that she came home to a fresh start. It’s like walking together for a time, wandering though uncertain streets.

And it’s almost like friendship, this exchange.

She invites me to lean over the wall of her register in the last hour of my shift. And I do. She tucks her hair behind her ear, and we chat. Someone is looking for the director of floor staff over the loudspeaker and we offer each other simple words. We pass them back and forth, collecting them, hoping one day we’ll have enough to make a meal.

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Auguste Renoir – Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette

We talk about who’s coming in tomorrow, who swapped their shift with whom, and who can’t come in. She tidies her register and I rock on my heels. And it’s nice. We don’t tell each other stories, don’t know any childhood nostalgia or family heirlooms, but there’s poetry here. In this supermarket on a quiet Thursday night there is poetry, between the lines.

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Those Words

She’s in year nine. This is her first job. She’s wearing a second hand uniform and an ill-advised lipstick shade. And she knows me. But she knows me like you know a car you buy off the Internet from ten years before you were born. She packs the groceries like I’ll do tomorrow, asks about school and I can’t find a form of words that says want I want to say. I’m searching for phrases, I’m looking for a language with a saying that makes sense, but I’ve got nothing. I start a sentence, but can’t finish, so I try again, until I settle like an exhausted horse lying down. The phrase is inadequate and it makes me feel sick, but I need to stop talking.

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Edward Potthast – Rough Seas

It feels so wrong to say “I dropped out”. It feels like I’m lying, or worse that what she thinks when she hears those words is exactly what I think when I hear those words. Maybe when she hears those words she thinks about that one guy two years above her that just straight up stopped going to school, or that other guy that went off to become a bricklayer, maybe she hears the work “dropkick” when she hears those words.

Because I do.

In the beginning, my sister used the word “dropkick” like little kids use swear words; with no context for their effect on people, but the feeling that these words are different to all the others. You could hear the meaning in the way she said it, like her words were laced. A “dropkick” is an idiot. A “dropkick” is someone who was dropkicked as a baby and that’s what why they’re so stupid. She insisted that a “dropkick” was not specifically a dropout, but she never described someone who had dropped out of high school without relying on that word.

I hear that word when I tell people what I did. It rings in my ears while I imagine it ringing in hers.

We’re sitting in camping chairs in year eight, wrapped up in each other’s jackets and picking around through half-cold fish and chips. The garage has no heating and we feel it. There are boys in the tent beside the garage, the brother of my friend, it’s her garage, and a friend of his. The evening wasn’t well planned and we sit like old people. Talking, but not talking. I find myself in the middle of conversations, or I find myself staring at the wall, shivering.

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In the Cafe (The Absinthe Drinker) – Edgar Degas

I don’t remember my friend’s dad coming in, but he walks by my chair, so I look up at him as he goes by. He’s been calling the boys homophobic slurs all evening. But jovially. I don’t remember if I had a response, I don’t think I minded. I imagine him as a teenage boy from school, once he decided those words were appropriate he denounced his adulthood. But I’m still in his home. I don’t remember why he came in, but as he leaves he yells at the boys. He uses those words again.

I don’t respond, but my friend does.

She stops him in his tracks, she points at me.

“You can’t say that. She’s gay!”

I wasn’t ready; I was caught off guard so I stare at her as though I’ve got nothing to say. She’s got a look of righteousness on her face and I realize instantly that she has no idea what she’s done. Her effect on me blows right past her like the breeze. He leaves in a hurry and I want to call my mum. I want to call home and ask that they come and get me because I was feeling a bit uncomfortable before, but now I feel unsafe. I feel like she has stripped off my skin, that she has broken open my ribs and scrawled the word “gay” on my heart in permanent marker.

But I don’t call home, and instead I am sharp with her. I narrow my eyes like I am strengthened by her declaration and my duty to serve justice. I cover my weakness with my firmness. I tell her never to out me again to anyone, I tell her that if I want it said I’ll say it. I watch cognizance blossom around the corners of her eyes and she apologizes and I try and forgive.

We never mention it again.

I want to tell all of my friends to quit school. Every time I see them after school, every time I hear about some test or some teacher I want to grab them by the shoulders and preach. I want to tell them that they don’t have to feel this way; that they don’t have to feel so stressed and so scared all the time. Or at least you can be stressed and scared in your own home. I want to arrange to have coffee with them, or knock on their doors to tell them about how beautiful and huge the world is.

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Happy Days – Edward Potthast

I suspect this is how cultists feel right before they start a cult.

But I don’t do any of this. Because I’m not here to fuck with people’s motivations.

This town on weekday mornings operates like a well-oiled symphony. All the pieces fit together perfectly, without a word, intertwined with delicate intricacies. It’s organic composition, and I play my part. Each piece relies on the others, and together we make music.

 

Do Not Speak In Clichés to Me

You’d think it would be more beautiful.

You’d think it would be more beautiful considering it’s full of trades people. But it’s not. It is not art. It’s a love letter to 70s bureaucracy. Most of the buildings look like outdated banks or government buildings. Others look like Amazon packing stations about to be abandoned due to inefficiency. It’s all brick and concrete and sad vinyl seating.

But in this forgotten space between two buildings just short enough to have a little sun in the morning, the trees have matured beautifully. Their placement seems sporadic and varied in species and I enjoy it. I sit at a little picnic table, and eat breakfast, drink a coffee, and get things done. It feels settled here. Sitting at my picnic table, among the sporadic trees. Watching the birds, and typing away, chipping into my thoughts. I’m trying to think new things, ask questions while I have the time.

This little escapee course is a time of great thought. There is little else to do, because this course wasn’t designed for me. I was at high school less than two months ago, and the course is designed for people rekindling their education twenty, thirty years down the track. And time, suddenly, is not of the essence.

….

We’re standing at the kitchen bench, and I am telling someone who loves me that I don’t think that I’m going to be finishing school. She tells me what she thinks. And I start off well in the explanation that I believe the situation requires, but I descend into half remembered sayings and convoluted metaphors. Somewhere I begin a phrase, and she narrows her eyes at me, and suddenly I can hardly see above the counter for how young I am.

“Do not speak in clichés to me.”

And I recede like the tide going out, because I am easily hurt. I have started to hear her in my ears when I write. Do not speak in clichés to me. Do not speak in clichés to me. It’s a small bit of the map.

….

Cringila Train Station is like a non-place, and I read magazine articles aloud to myself. There are the reeds and the traffic and after a while a deafening silence. There is nothing kind here. There is no vending machine, none of the electronic timetables, not even a station guard. There is just the highway and the steelworks and a train station for workers that are no longer there. I want to be somewhere that is somewhere. There’s bus stop is less than ten feet away but none of the buses are going anywhere. So I sit with the mandarin I had stuffed in my pocket, and wait for any train going north.

The wind bites through my jacket, I read about stoicism and octopuses, and I try to untether the past from the future. I’m stuck in this bubble of cause and effect, mismatching catalysts to results, and trying to realize that the past is all tucked away. I’ve started to view my life as a series of cardboard boxes. The ones in front of me are empty, the ones behind are full of the debris that I have loved and discarded from my person.

But I still haven’t found a place for my schoolbooks. I don’t know what to do with them, because I spent so much of my own money on them and now they are useless in their red folder that I bought to inspire me. And I love that person that started out this school year full of determination about a borrowed dream. Not because she was delusional, but because she was determined, and willing. So my schoolbooks sit on my table and I look at them every night.

And I’m horrified by their presence in my bedroom, but too loyal to throw them out.

….

The safest image I can imagine is a Saturday morning and my dad making a list. We used to do our shopping for the week on Saturdays and he would make a list with his coffee. I remember how he would wear his sunglasses in bed because the sun was coming for him.tumblr_oejr0bE9gm1sq7vr5o1_540.jpeg I remember the smell of coffee even though I didn’t know it was the coffee then, and I can see him making his list. I can envision the lists within the list for the vegetables and dairy, the yellow paper and his work pen; the white sheets, the morning sun, coming in during the ad breaks in the cartoons.

They’ve since changed the position of the bed, so he doesn’t have to wear his sunglasses. And we don’t do our shopping on Saturdays and he doesn’t make a list and I don’t watch cartoons. And suddenly I feel like an old woman, horrified by society in the checkout line. It’s not that there’s no safety now and coffee and Saturday mornings still exist and they charm me. But it’s hard to hold two thoughts in your head and even harder to feel safe in two places at once.

….

There were activists in Newtown today and they spoke to us like a military operation. They split us up, and asked us huge questions we couldn’t possibly have answers to. What are your thoughts on the Russian Revolution? Are you a liberal? Have you ever read anything on Marx? We are scruffy teenagers on a day out. It’s nearly raining. We’re trying to find somewhere to eat that won’t cost us three hours of work at our dingy minimum wage jobs. And the activists are asking for our thoughts are on modern day capitalism in the current political climate.

12898399_1732264537045776_1693495949249366845_o-700x530They’ve got their shoulders squared like they’re ready for a fight, and they’re ready and willing to pry our email addresses from our cold dead fingers. The man who talks to me talks to me like he’s trying to sell me something. There is nothing that I can give him. There is no moral response I can give him that would make him feel satisfied parting from this conversation. He can’t sell me something I’ve already got. But we converse anyway, and each not knowing anything more than what we did already. There can be no debate.

We part ways like debris briefly getting caught in a branch along the river before getting pulled away by the current. We leave like children. We eat cheap Mexican food and drift in and out of op shops and factory outlets and I think about that young man. I wonder where he’s from, I wonder if he’s getting paid, I wonder who taught him this, I wonder who it was that gave him those talking points. And I think I will chase him up on his offer to talk more about it at their conferences and events. Because I don’t know enough to debate, and maybe I would like to.

Other People

I envy people with awards. With trophy cabinets and framed bits of paper.

I imagine them being acclaimed scientists or sports people. I imagine them opening up their trophy cabinets or standing in front of their mantels when even a morsel of self-doubt enters their minds, and reaffirming that they are brilliant. So brilliant that people gave them bits of paper and statues of people stuck on miniature platforms to congratulate them on it.

But I know that this is not how it works. Self-doubt negotiates with anyone. There is no one who is immune.

The awards turn against the people who have won them, convincing someone that they were never brilliant or that they have fallen from the brilliance they once had. Or that they could have done so much more if only they had worked harder, or sacrificed more, or been a more adequate human being.

Awards can be a representation of our limits just as much as our achievements.

And I get that. It’s just that maybe it would be easier to doubt my achievements than the fundamentals of my personhood.

But then again, I don’t have a mantel.

….

I imagine myself without a mantel in my adult years. I see myself at thirty-five waking up and regretting all of my tattoos, and my decisions, and not spending money while I had it, or not saving money while I had it. I imagine her staring at her empty walls, and cabinets full of things that aren’t trophies. This future version of myself has forgotten what it felt like to be me now, has forgotten why she did all these things.

She no longer likes the bus, and is stuck in a job she can’t leave because she’s forgotten how to move. She failed to travel like she said she would. She lives inland in a place she doesn’t like, and she’s stopped cooking. She’s forgotten how to speak, how to change, or think. She lives with her shoulders hooped from spending twenty years carrying around her regret and frustration.

She is stagnant water, but she doesn’t miss the ocean like she used to do.

….

Do you think that a lion likes to run? That a bird enjoys flying? You’d think that they would.

….

In England, it’s hard to look out of windows when you’re in the back seat of a car. In Australia you can see in all directions. In the English countryside there are hedges. I rode in the back seat in England, and was vexed by this.

We stayed in Braishfield, and I missed home. Homesickness wrapped itself around my heart, and nearly equaled my fascination with the world. I missed the cliffs and my little town, and the headlands, and the coast. I’d spent so much time before we left wearing long sleeves in the summer, and talking about how I loved the cold. And the moment inland hit me, I wanted expanse. When we came back it was like reuniting with an old friend. We came down the coastal road, over the bridge and back to the Pacific Ocean, blue and white and endless and it felt like home.

It was just getting to be late spring when we got back and I watched the summer roll in like a sandstorm and embraced it when it came.

….

We read this poem in English class at one of those critical moments, and I read it over and over again because I thought it was beautiful and I listened to my peers read it over and over again because it said something I needed to hear. “Go for it,” this poem whispered like it was speaking directly to me, “Go and see what’s out there, go for it.” I sat there in English class listening to this voice, and imagined myself going for it.

Later I started to imagine the woman who regrets, but in the beginning all I had to dream of was a person that I loved, the person I had cultivated and cared for over the previous months. The part of me that had missed the ocean, that had loved the summer when it came; the part of me that had noticed when the buds began to bloom and missed California and was fueled by hope and determination. Sitting in English class I imagined her flourishing.

And she was happy; she was the person brewing in me.

All I am looking for is a space where she can grow; where she can learn how to be a real person, and I can learn how to let her. The woman who regrets and the woman who hopes are nothing alike, and I’ve got to start making investments in the woman who hopes.

 

 

Under a Bridge Pt. 2

I am going to end up under a bridge. I am going to end up under a bridge.

And there’s a part of me that hasn’t accepted that yet, that wants to argue; that wants to explain. And that part of me that is so hurt that it feels it has to. That part of me is in such pain that that could be thought of me. But it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it to avoid this pain, to stop this being thought of me because there really is only one way. This pain is okay, and I will come to embrace it and the rage that it generates in time.

And I don’t need to argue with anyone about this, I don’t need to explain, because I know I cannot win. Because to any logical person it is always better to be safe than sorry.

“But you get an ATAR so that you can go to university.”

“But I don’t want to go to university.”

“But you might.”

“And if I do, there are other means.”

“Don’t you want to make it easier?”

“For who? That person doesn’t even exist.”

There is no point that I can come up with that cannot be rebuffed; that cannot be counteracted. No argument is ever going to be good enough. And I’m still learning how to be okay with that, learning how to see the pros and cons list and knowing that it’s still not what I want. And I just have to keep thinking that.

This is not what I want.

This is not what I want.

This is not what I want.

I don’t want to go to university, I don’t want an ATAR, and I don’t want to spend a year getting one. I don’t want this.

….

I let it slip that I didn’t want an ATAR this morning in front of my sister. She told me immediately not to make this decision at sixteen. But there is literally no other time that I can make it. Twenty-two year old me is not going to give a fuck. And so whether I like it or not, this is a decision that I have to make at sixteen, and a decision not to change is still a decision.

….

I have an image of myself swan diving off the figurative, invisible cliff I’ve been told about, a choir of angels singing “fuck it”, the school population watching me go.

But that’s not what’s happening here, and I’m trying really hard not to state my intentions like it is. Because “fuck it” is so much easier to explain than a complex, researched decision prompted by realization that this is not what I want and there is something I think I’ve always wanted instead.

And that’s already the assumption. I don’t need to back it up. I hate school, and I’ve been very open about that. I don’t need to describe the swan dive because whoever I am telling is already picturing it.

But I’m still not swan diving; I’m just taking the stairs.

And I think that my sister is right, a little bit. I am sixteen and given time, I won’t be anymore. I will change. But I’ll still be changing at thirty-six, and fifty-six and eighty-six. And we’re all just taking bets on the things that won’t change. And I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know where I’m going, I know who I want to be and I know what I want.

And I’ll take bets on that.

Giving the Finger to the Feeling

When I was in year five, I moved schools. To a school on a cliff to the north with sixty three kids. There were three classes, three classrooms, a library, a toilet block, a playing field, trees, and a playground. And it was good, because there were so few. And I loved it, because most of the time, I was in charge. I felt new there, surrounded by these strangers, like I could recreate myself, and I recreated myself to be assertive.

And I was allowed that. I didn’t know that then, but I realize that now. I was allowed leadership, I was allowed time to refine those skills I had never used before, my recreation was nurtured and cultivated. Opportunities of leadership were offered in that school of sixty-three and it instilled in me a sense of equality. Nobody has power over me, these grown ups and I are equals.

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But it was such a small school.

If one person didn’t want to do something, suddenly there weren’t enough people for anybody to do it. So you had to do it. And I played a lot of sport that I didn’t want to because of that. And it didn’t make me any better at it, and it didn’t make me like it. But I had an understanding that it was my responsibility, because I couldn’t just go making other people’s lives worse because I didn’t like to run. That was a lesson I had to learn.

They gave me an award the year I left, a principal’s award. It hangs in the corner of my mirror and it says “For Outstanding Contribution In All Aspects Of School Life” and I’m still proud of it, because it’s the only award I’ve ever gotten that I think I deserved.

In the later half of the last term of last year’s school year, I took to skipping. Exams were over; the reports were in, there was nothing for me there but the company, and the company wasn’t always worth going all the way to school and the six hours there and all the way back. It was a three-day a week sort of not-structure structure. Sometimes I would go, sit in for one or two subjects doing meaningless things, and then I would leave. Easy as walking out the gate. There was no trick to it. The threat of prosecution was a gun with no bullets.

And I liked that, I liked the walking out, the freedom of it. Somehow it was better than just not showing up at all, though I did that plenty too.

Once, when I was in year eight, a girl in my year was busted for going to MacDonald’s during a PE period, allegedly. It was a rumor about a rumor about a rumor and I didn’t know her that well, so I didn’t ask. But it was enough. It scared me enough to do only minor things wrong, and it scared the people around me into not doing anything at all.

It was a theoretical threat of discipline. There was nothing that could actually be done that would have any lasting effect.

But somewhere there is that feeling, the feeling that you’re doing something wrong. It’s a feeling of fear, of retribution mimg_4775aybe? Maybe shame, or disappointment. But it is a feeling of power, that someone has power over you and that someone is telling you what to do and you have to do it. But you don’t. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Just because you are responsible for the consequences, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. A teacher is just a grown up, and authority is a given thing.

And you don’t have to give it to anyone if you don’t want to.

And part of the fun of skipping, I think, is giving the finger to that feeling that tells you that you can’t because a teacher told you not to.

I think I am going to miss that the most next year, when I resume the five day week regime. The walking out. The deciding where to go next. I didn’t have to go home, but I couldn’t stay there.

I am a supporter of mandatory schooling, because I understand that sometimes that is the only incentive there is. But I am not in support of mandatory things, and I have a great hope for a people that has a yearning for knowledge and an economy that can support that.

I have spent my whole high school career not wearing the right uniform and whether that is in protest or just because I don’t want to, it doesn’t matter, it is just that uniform is not that fucking important.

Nobody should care what sort of clothes I wear, and I should hardly have my time taken away for it. That doesn’t mean that I think a uniform is a bad thing, I simply support my right not to wear one if I don’t want to. But I don’t think that the uniform is a part of my education, I think that it is a part of how I and my peers are convinced that other people have power over us, that we are not in charge, and we are not leaders, we are the led and we must remember that.

But I still believe that the most important part of schooling is the schooling, and how I choose to go about that ought to only be my business.

 

(Inspired by The Return of School Discipline – why children should be free, shown to me by Liz Morrish)

The Train

“Think about this,” the question is prompted, “two pairs of tracks run parallel, on the left are two workers, and on the right are four. You are standing beside the lever that can change the course of a train incoming from the right to the left. A train is coming on the right, too fast to stop, if it continues it will kill the four men working on the track. Do you choose to change the train from the right to the left or leave it be?”

There is silence. And for a moment I thinkL'Arrivée_d'un_train_en_gare_de_La_Ciotat.jpeg about the outcomes, which I would prefer. My stomach aches, anxiety. But that’s what the question was designed to do.

In a rush, other options are suggested. The question curves around them to stop them from flying out of the court.

“I would yell.”

“They’re too far away.”

“I would warn them from the loud speaker.”

“The loud speaker is broken.”

The question has none of the variables of real life, because the scenario is a scenario. The point of it is to make you choose, or at least expose the fact that you can’t.

Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?

Only with trains.

And, to be honest, I don’t know. I’ve never known and I don’t know anyone who does. And I couldn’t answer that question about the men and the train, but I’m very suddenly aware of it, and that is the only development. All it teaches you is to stay away from train stations.

But the point is if you’re questioning if the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, then you’re already fucked. The train is already speeding towards you and you have reached the point of no return. Nobody talks about the train, because the train is posed like a force of nature. But it’s not, it’s a train, and something has had to go very wrong for us to have come to this point.

….

I wanted Hillary to win.

But that doesn’t mean I liked her pantsuits.

I liked the way that she was a woman, I liked that she was unyielding in the face of her opponent; I liked that skit she did with SNL. I liked her daughter, and her dignity. I even liked the way she holds her chin a little bit higher when she listens to something she doesn’t agree with even though I hate it when people do that to me. I liked the way that she stood. But I didn’t like her when she spoke, when she made her speeches. I thought she smirked too often and her smile was too thin. There were issues. When she made speeches she had arrogance, she spoke like she had it in the bag.

The only speech I liked was the one after she lost, she didn’t smirk in that speech, and her smiles seemed a little lighter. She spoke with dignity, with grace. She could have ignored the fact that she had lost, or named it unjust or corrupt. But she didn’t, she accepted her loss and she said that she was sorry, and that she was glad that she had had a chance. She looked like she was finished with that; done with that person who she was when she made speeches before that.

And I knew that Hillary would win.

We watched the election, mum and I, in an attic in Brooklyn, and I knew she would win. We ate Lebanese pizza from down the road, and chips and artisanal donuts, and drank beer. We watched the election like you watch a fixed game. It was nice. And I knew she would win. I went to sleep when Hillary was winning like I knew she would, and when I woke up again she hadn’t won and suddenly I didn’t know that she would win anymore because she hadn’t.

And it took a little while for that to sink in.

And the next morning we mourned that, that thing that we had known.

And there were fewer people on the subway that day, and weeping gay men in Union Square holding up signs and I spent the day wondering why I didn’t know anymore.

….

This afternoon, I exercised self-restraint and didn’t buy a coffee when I really wanted to, so that I would have the money to buy sweetened condensed milk, so that tomorrow I can make caramel. After doing that, I’m going to go to Harper’s speech, and after that I’m going to go to the doctor. And I’m not going to save or damn anyone.

At most I’m going to walk a lot.

Because it’s not my call.

I don’t know if we’re better together, or even what the specifics of “we” are, but I know that one person yelling at the sky is pointless, but a thousand make a protest. And nothing is united entirely, but trying has had some results.

Because it was not just one weeping gay man in union square.

And it wasn’t just one that protested outside Trump tower.

And it wasn’t just one person that voted against this outcome.

But here we are, Donald Trump is the president elect and respecting democracy means accepting that, because we’re here now.

And he’s driving the train now.

And in the metaphor, there is option A or B, the lives of the many, the lives of the few. But this is the real world, and in the real world we cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into the victim role, because there will always be loud speakers, and there will always be other factors and sometimes, we are going to have to yell.