Where do we go from here?
It’s hard to put a question mark at the end of that sentence. It feels more like a statement, a permanent form of being. Often, I find myself actively avoiding the news - and the computer in general - in order to distance myself from the slow burn of everything falling apart.
However, it has a way of crawling up into every orifice of your existence to remind you that it’s there, that smell of decay we may love in autumn but not when it carries the hint of what’s to come.
“I don’t want to call it a collapse,” a friend of mine said as we watched people serving themselves the food we brought to the parking garage earlier that afternoon, “It feels too final.”
Indeed, the finality of everything sits on you like that question without a question mark. A man asked me what food was soft enough to chew because his jaw had been dislocated in a fight and he couldn’t go to the doctor.
“How do you feel about telling people to leave when they’re off their meds?” I was asked in an interview later that day.
It was clear the interviewers felt guilty asking that. I felt guilty myself having to assume the role of someone who’d be okay asking someone who clearly needed help to leave. I imagined the man recovering from the dislocated jaw laboring through a dish of mashed potatoes. Even my response felt hollow, alluding to being able to direct them to free food and a warm place that was anywhere but that tiny shop.
Anywhere but here.
You can be anywhere but here.
I was sent an article this morning detailing how our “moderate” Republican governor was getting cozy with January 6th insurrectionists and evangelical Christians supporting extremely right-wing policies.
“Gender mutilation,” I read out loud, feeling it catch in my throat.
Even here in this tiny state that harbors many trans people, there’s no safety. I scratched at the new stubble growing on my chin. In reality, there is no anywhere. I think that’s what I was missing at my interview:
There is no anywhere when nowhere wants you.
It made reading Kali Akuno’s blog post about neo-confederates and neo-fascists all the more real.
“It’s my honest assessment that as of this writing we have a little less than two years before the neo-confederates and neo-fascists install a reactionary dictatorship by the end of January 2025.”
That opening sentence hits like “gender mutilation”. For those who don’t fit their regime - a.k.a, if you are not white, cis, or het - there’s only nowhere and that nowhere is very likely dead at the bottom of a ditch.
The blog post goes on to describe how to protect your community and what the left would need to do to transcend that “low level of organization” that exists currently. It reads a lot like preparing for a war. Indeed, Akuno goes on to say any kind of left-wing mobilization will hasten the civil war the ultra-right has “planned and prepared for.”
What’s more: “…like it or not, it cannot be avoided so we must see our way through this and make it to the other side… Should we lose, the forces of reaction will do their worse to return us to the horrors of the 16th century.”
Losing feels like collapse, that finality my friend is so hopeful we will avoid. And maybe we will.
But it also feels like the tolling of a rusty church bell in one of those abandoned towns dotting the US like pockmarks, the ringing of it extending for miles across the flat lands of dried out corn.
I’ve never been to one of those towns, but I’ve been told that it is the closest thing to “haunted” you’ll ever experience, short of being able to sense the dead.
Reading Akuno’s blog post was one of the scarier things I’ve read before Halloween next week, apart from our governor courting racist, transphobic asshats. Forget Stephen King or Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Reality these days is probably the closest brush with horror we can have.