The snow started out in dry flakes the size of buttercup petals. Individually, they swayed, twirled, and dissolved just above the too-warm sidewalks. Together, they tumbled through the streets like confetti, sticking to nothing, skimming along the subtle electrical currents of everyday objects. By noon the snow was tidal, an ephemeral wave washing over everything in undulating ebbs and flows. And then a darker sky, a thundering rush of wind, peels of snow tossed in every direction, slithering off of rooftops and along gutters like snakes. The harrowing wind started and stopped and started in a brisk staccato, veils of snow hanging briefly, suspended, before falling, defeated.
I sit at my chair, at my table, in my apartment where the pilot light on the heater has just been snuffed out by the steady stream of air that sneaks its way through the vent. I wear layers and drink too much coffee. I’m sitting at my computer trying to think of what to write as the wintry tableau outside my window shifts restlessly in whites and grays. The seagulls, blown in from the coast by the storm, congregate among the crows along the spines of roofs. Black. White. Black. Gray. The world is monochromatic.
One month ago today half of this country elected to lead it a man who has no moral compass. He built nothing out of another nothing that his father handed to him, and half of the country celebrated his nothingness. It was as though we collectively glitched, our din pausing for a heartbeat and when it was regained we found that we were living in a reflection, and though the sound was the same it reverberated in the opposite direction. With applause and tears of joy half of this country elected a man who openly talks about desiring his daughter’s body. A man who cannot prove he did not rape a child. A man who gleefully flouts all notions of decency with the aplomb of a toddler flinging his own shit. A man who pointedly appoints decrepit shells of humans who donated to his campaign to operate the branches of his throne. He has promised to undo every good work this country worked hard to produce. He has promised to give to those who do not need and to take from those who do– and half of the needy applaud him for it.
And in what I consider the kernel of truth for every politician, he has shown what he will do to the Native population. He has promised to destroy the land of the indigenous peoples of the United States for resources that fuel a finite economy. This promise heralds destruction and death. He has promised to kill a part of me. He has promised to darken the futures of my nieces and nephew. He has promised to act as though his own lifeline is that of the planet’s. And indeed perhaps that’s not far from the truth.
I have moments when I suddenly recall being on the road. It’s usually at night; insomnia fuels longing. It is not the longing for an old lover’s warmth or a childhood I never had. Instead, I am startled awake by memories of golden expanses that normally terrify me: waving prairies, arid deserts, isolated plains. I even sometimes think fondly of the places that once forced me into a state of alienation so new and raw I could not carry the weight of my own fear. Now I remember it with hunger. It is stark and refreshing. Yes: it was lonely and I was afraid, but these things came from within–the world was not grabbing from the ground up in temblors of doom.
I recall now with peace the dust of the midwest: smelling of old sunlight, burnt, tired, deliciously indifferent. It fell around me as though it were glancing off my own subtle electricity. I think of driving alone to the edge of what was left of the prairie. It truly was like a sea, as many have described it in the past, with only one stark difference: the sound. Unlike the sea, whose thundering edges drowned out the worries in my brain, the sound of the prairie was a hum of summer insects and silence. Today, the midwest faces clean water issues and unprecedented earthquake damage, due to extensive fracking found throughout many of the oil states.
I think of the full harvest moon rising over the rim of the Grand Canyon, like some benevolent god whose sole purpose was to illuminate the inanimate, to show us the beauty in that which did not pass the time but was simply formed by it. Today, though a 20 year ban was put into effect to stop new mine construction, the Grand Canyon is under threat from pre-existing uranium mines; radioactive dust is found throughout the National Park.
I think of the dawn bleeding into the night over North Dakota as I drove through the painted canyons of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, compass pointed toward Tennessee. A lavender mist rose like ghosts to greet us before sighing back into the grasses of the plains. Miles slept as I drove, and I watched in quiet solitude as the sky bore on its wings the colors of an ancient and undisturbed beauty. My heart never felt so heavy with awe as it did that morning, in a place I would never have expected it to. Today, much of North Dakota fights over land and water rights with the advent of unrestrained fracking, and the North Dakota government has flouted sovereign law to gain access to the oil on Tribal land, going so far as to physically endanger the people trying to save that land.
What will I write about once irreality becomes reality? What will I write about when everything that inspires me is turned to dust? Does it help not to care? Is that the secret of the rich and powerful? Two sessions of therapy a week, creature comforts, frequent weekend getaways, the ability to buy the newest and best, the ability to say you purchased your ease of mind. To pay for indifference.
I don’t know what the solution is. I simply long, every day now, for indifference.