I keep sitting down to write with intention, but lately, it feels impossible to get the words to come out just right.
I’ll get a paragraph or two in before I draw a blank and become paralyzed by the fear of getting stuck, or not being able to write with conviction. These are difficult times in our country that involve issues I’m not used to writing about, so here I am in my batting cage hitting foul balls while practicing my line drive. It’s something that will have to take its sweet time, a slow progression of unlearning and relearning, much in the same way one might train for a marathon. Everyone starts out on the couch, but the ones who patiently nourish themselves through the pitfalls are the ones who cross the finish line humbled and forever changed. We need marathon warriors right now—anyone who is willing to try.
Whenever I open Microsoft Word and stare for too long at a blank page, I simply default to Rose-Colored Lenses, which is akin to my favorite old sweater. It’s worn perfectly just so and marked with stains that have settled in over the years. I know every fiber and reminisce about the places I’ve been, so that every time I slip it on, it feels like coming home.
I’ve been brutally honest and transparent on Rose-Colored Lenses. It’s a collection of stories about life and relationships: a collection of words from a woman who is a lover of life and its people, of exploration and adventure, of the stream of consciousness running beneath the surface of the Earth, and of God. What’s been bubbling up lately has been a lot of anger and sadness. I don’t want to mislead anyone, or give bad advice. Perhaps it’s that I don’t want to upset anyone. Still, how can I be quiet, or glaze over things that can’t be dressed up with a sweet Southern accent and a ridiculously large bow?
I can’t pass a Diane Black sign, or see a mailer from someone claiming to “uphold Trump’s plan” without thinking, ‘These are white nationalists.’ At this point, there is no gray area. How do we bend and relax on human rights issues six days a week and then share communion in church on Sunday? I’m not buying it.
I’m disappointed in my community here in Pollyanna. There’s still a lot of gorgeous love to spread around and even more gorgeous and diverse groups of people willing to help, but the commercials for Trump candidates and excuses people build for themselves are so thick with support for racism and sexism, that I don’t see how anyone can decide in good conscience to vote any of these people into office.
I honestly don’t see how God could still be with us at this point. Have we looked lately? Because I’m not sure God can stand next to anyone who incites so much hate toward minorities without weeping over the disgusting misuse and abuse of His word. Just this morning, I was talking with a friend about three gay men who have been brutally attacked within the past six months. The latest victim, Daniel Shields, was found badly decomposed Tuesday inside of his Nashville residence. Crimes like this will continue to be on the rise as the leader of our country rebuilds the podium for hate speech, segregation, and white supremacy.
My feet are snuggled underneath my crossed calves, and my laptop is resting on my thighs. Joseph is having “gah”, which translates into water, milk, or anything to eat that isn’t a cracker. When it’s a cracker he’s after, he simply says, “Caca!” which means shit in Italian.
Most days lately, I feel like going outside and screaming, “CACA!” at the top of my lungs, but then Joseph might get the wrong idea and become terribly confused, so I refrain. It’s just that this abnormally thick Nashville summer keeps getting under my skin and begins eating me alive. Even riding my bike down the sidewalks in Pollyanna that end abruptly is enough to elicit a mental response of, ‘What the hell kind of people are running this town!’ Whereas before, I would’ve laughed it off and held onto Joseph’s carrier for good measure.
The source of my misfortune isn’t the suffocating humidity that rushes in seemingly overnight and unannounced every June, smacking me in the face and making my dense, curly hair look parched. It’s neither the familiar swarms of bastard mosquitos, nor the fireflies that arrive fewer each year as Pollyanna’s green space disappears. It’s not that our greenway, which once felt like an escape, has become dotted with buildings where clusters of native forestry and wildlife used to thrive. The problem is that the air is dense with this putrid hypocrisy that pulls heavy into my lungs before settling warily into my bones.
Our grass is beginning to brown in places and the weeds are taking over the mulch beds. I was fooled by the oddly warm weather this past February, and so I handled much of the yard work then, which I have since given up on. Joseph no longer sits patiently buckled into his red Radio Flyer wagon watching me pull weeds and planting flowers. He thrashes and wails after a few minutes, either demanding a ride, or to get out and play. I can’t say that I blame him. I’d rather run around the yard studying its forgotten wonders through his eyes, which is astronomically better than hovering over work beneath the blazing heat of a relentless sun and atop asphalt hot enough to burn the rubber off my Keens. And anyway, I’m more aware now than ever of the importance of raising white boys to be peacemakers, and so I’ll indulge patiently his desire to pick at the same wildflower for five minutes before stomping off through the tall grass.
The country is burdened by emotional responses that are coming in closer intervals now, such as thunder precedes an approaching storm. And with each new terror or catastrophe, I think, ‘Oh, okay. This is it now, right? This is the point where the South collectively decides that enough is enough.’ But it never happens. Instead, the bar is lowered for us, and so slowly that we barely even notice. Even school shootings have become as commonplace as football games. The last one happened in May at the same time as the Royal Wedding. Ten people died, but didn’t Meghan Markle look gorgeous?
No longer does prayer fix my feelings of unease. My discomfort isn’t met lovingly in my living room after the children have gone to bed at night. I know that the country is in peril because of growing instability: the great divide and the decline of a great nation. I find it hard to sit down and write about anything that isn’t what our country should be learning through this. I’m still learning how to navigate my own way through it, and so I feel unequipped to guide anyone else down these series of mazes. There are doorways that lead from one danger to the next. White nationalists are crawling out of the woodwork and clawing their way out of coffins that had been nailed shut as we progressed closer to equality. Whatever gains we have made, we are having to fight for once again. The government will sweep in and remove all of the barriers we have that protect us and our freedoms. Even innocent journalists are being gunned down. And sure, Trump gets on Twitter and speaks of the horrid crime while not admitting his own influence, which isn’t surprising.
Taking soft stances right now isn’t an option. The best I can hope for is to remain vigilant and pray that the rest of my country will follow suit, especially here in Pollyanna. What I do know is that, for now, I feel safe here. I will stand up for what is right and keep preaching a Gospel that directs us on a path of love while casting demons back into the pits of hell where they belong. The funny thing is, the demons are cloaked in fine suits and carry a bible, but as a friend said recently, “They are getting easier to spot these days.”
C.Brownlee, Writer, Space Force, 2018