THERE’S A SMALL BEETLE CRAWLING UP THE WALL OPPOSITE MY DESK AND SOMETHING ABOUT THAT FEELS LIKE AN OMEN OF TENDERNESS TO COME
Hi, thank you. That’s a really big deal to me since I’m obsessed with Barthes and because sloanealexandra and I once had a long conversation in Portland, Oregon, where neither of us live, about how important it was to write things down that make the world different—and change always has an element of violence embedded in it (which is why love is always rupture).
So this is a super bigtime compliment and thank you for that.
Right after college, D, a boy I didn’t know very well but became friends with in class and then closer to when he became my editor at an online magazine where I had a short-lived column about living in New York, drowned. The last words he said to me before he got on a plane, went night swimming with some friends, and didn’t come back were, We have to get together when I get back. We should talk about different kinds of collaboration. Plus I have two checks for you from the mag. D’s mother flew out to New York with some of his family afterwards and we had a service in the park for the people who knew him from school but couldn’t afford to fly out to where he grew up. I remember being overwhelmed by how much love was in that gesture, the kindness of acknowledging that we were all these people she didn’t know but who could’ve loved her son, too. And how he was gone and she knew we needed to come together and experience his absence together.
Last night I told the story of how J’s mom sent me to Ohio to get him when he was on a heroin bender and squatting in a condo development. How I talked to him for hours and convinced him to turn himself in and get treatment. His mother had written a note that just read, J, we all love you. This is the best for you. You can always call me collect at home. All my love, always, Mom. When I called her to say that I had him, that he was safe, she called the police. She said, You know he wouldn’t have really turned himself in.
When S died of sudden heart failure a few years later I wrote, I was not as kind to her as I could have been. Her parents had died years ago, she was divorced already. But she was still young and it would’ve been foolish to expect her to die. And then she did.
I’ve been thinking, lately, about all the kinds of love that death brings into the world. Hard loves and joyous loves. How, when my friend’s mother died I asked her how she felt and she pulled her hair back and said, Relieved.
I keep the letter J’s mom wrote him on my desk. Underneath I keep my grandmother’s handwritten recipe for the apple crisp she used to make that she wrote down for me before she died.
I’ve been stitching all these little things into the space around me for years (letters, fortunes from cookies, photos of people i loved, every movie ticket stub since high school) because I guess at some point I realized that archiving was about becoming your own sacred space. You have to make room for all the ghosts you need to keep.
I’m in agreement. Spawn may have come out first though.
Regardless, If it weren’t for Blade the Marvel movies featuring whiteout casts wouldn’t even be a thing.
There’s a difference between characters like Spawn and Blade and characters like Captain America and Falcon and I think that’s what we’re noticing when we say that Anthony Mackie is going to be the first Black superhero.
Spawn and Blade were not only dark but their “powers” came from demons and death, their ethics were questionable (they were fighting evil but they were vengeful and had high rates of collateral damage), they were straight up badasses and not exactly poster children for heroics. In many ways, these men were exactly who the world expects Black men to be.
When we look at the characters who are occupying those more “clean cut,” captain of the football team, roles (think cyclops, superman, captain america), that’s where Black men get no love and where they have the opportunity to challenge the image that is so often cast upon them. I think that’s what makes Anthony Mackie as Falcon so significant. However, we should be giving more space to Don Cheadle/Terrance Howard in Iron Man as War Machine—that character was really the first to occupy this kind of space on the big screen.
My family will take you to school on almost any subject you’d like to bring to us.
Please do not step to me with any sort of nonsense that creates hierarchies of violence or suffering. I am not here for that.
My inner monologue when getting on the train and people refuse to get out of the doorway:"You know I really should work on being more generous and open to the idea that people have a lot going on in their lives that I'm not privy to."
What comes out of my mouth when getting on the train and people refuse to get out of the doorway:"So, what I'm gonna need you to do is move."
"So when LGBTQ people want what lots of people want — which is a relief from their loneliness and a social world that they can feel welcomed in — I can’t disrespect their objects; I just have to say, “Is that all there is?” For me, it’s never about shaming people’s objects; it’s always about creating better and better objects. It’s always about creating better worlds, making it possible for us to think in more and different kinds of ways about how we relationally can move through life. I never want someone to talk less in class; I want everyone to talk more. I never want less fantasy; I always want more. I never want less citizenship; I always want more — more different ways of being in relation. And then we struggle it out, because we struggle with the ways in which they’re incommensurate. But there’s no reason to lay more shame on what people want."
These days I keep thinking what a small mercy it is that I have known two men who I have loved with everything I had—that I can say with clarity that this is a love that I am capable of. Never mind mind the failure, never mind the way both of them have been tense-shifted into things that happened. Because that’s what matters—that it happened.
Surviving life for me has become a constant exercise in recursive practice—waking up alone and remembering all those dawns with J; eating alone and thinking about the things I’d say to M if he were there to listen. I have built a moral structure, a sense of virtue, based on the goodness of these moments.
I remember how I told M I was raped twice because the first time I told him I was blackout drunk and when I told him again—years later—he was so soft with me when he said, I know. and how that tenderness is a place I return to again and again.
I suppose it’s spring and so I’m thinking about rebirth, watching little green buds start to pull themselves out and into life—all that sturdy will being channeled into repeating the cycle, into living: again.
I suppose it’s spring and so I’m thinking that I’m sorry. Even if I’m not sure what for. I’m just sorry. Sorry for the blood and the spit and that time I overdosed on pills and threw up on your couch. I’m better now. And I’m sorry for that too.
Snowdrops by Louise Glück
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring—
afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy
in the raw wind of the new world.