Everyone, and anyone who had classes with me in high school, has seen me have anxiety, but there are only eight or nine people in my life that have seen me have a full on panic attack. The person who saw my worst panic attack lives in New York, and surprisingly, it wasn’t Jeremy. Jeremy has helped me develop some of the most helpful coping mechanisms, so he’s never seen me at my worst, my freshmen year–a year where everyone writes off anxiety for hormones so it’s impossible to understand what is happening inside your body, inside your brain, and inside your soul. My anxiety became a punch line for jokes about puberty.
This will come as a surprise to no one: I am white. Though that’s never been a surprise to me, I have never been so aware of my whiteness as I am while living on the outskirts of Harlem. I confront my whiteness every day.
I try to be conscientious and introspective about my identity. I want to acknowledge my whiteness, and in so doing, I must acknowledge my privilege. I do not feel defensive about my privilege. Acknowledging my privilege doesn’t mean that I was lazy, and it doesn’t mean that I didn’t work hard, and it doesn’t mean that I haven’t earned my spot at Columbia. It simply means that I was in a system that was engineered for people like me to thrive. Perhaps most importantly right now, it means that I can walk basically anywhere in the United States and not fear that I will be accused of a crime. It’s ok to acknowledge those things. It doesn’t hurt me to acknowledge that these privileges exist.
What hurts is that these privileges don’t exist for everyone.
To the Graduating Class of NEST+m,
I like to put the cap of a pen back on after I’ve written something decisive. Similarly, I’d like to put a cap on this year, something tidy to end a decisive year of discovery. But I’m finding that “tidy” just won’t do. There was nothing TIDY about this year of English, yours or mine. This year might have looked like a cursive sentence written by a third grader. Messy, sure, but a finished product that someone could be proud of.
“Darling, be a dear and grab me a beer.”
She never knew what to say, so she went to the word hose looking for some inspiration.
It only takes a few hours for a memory to become rusty. Like an orange haze that speckles the surface of a nail or an old door hinge, my memory starts to fill in at the corners, and the sheen wears away if I don’t immediately write about the event I want to relive.
One day, not in the next nine months, but one day, I’ll have a little baby (babies?) of my own. I’ll have babies that grow irretrievably into children who play soccer (perhaps play soccer badly if they’re my children) and lose teeth.
I wish I hadn’t said nothing.
Hands folded around a dollar bill like a newborn clutching her mother’s fingers.
An interchange in my pocket.
She, big and blue, asked me for spare change with a darlin’ attached to the question.
I am the giver of granola bars, the tucker of money underneath shopping cart wheels.
I am not the bolded question mark that asks what you’ll do with my money.
It’s yours now.
But it’s stuck in my pocket.
Because I said nothing.
I’ve never understood this mid-90’s trend of wearing pants so low that they sag around the ankles. I didn’t like it when Murray wore it in Clueless, and I didn’t appreciate Justin Bieber’s low riding days, and I’m surprised by how much the trend concerns me now that I see it in the high schools. Mostly what confuses me about the trend is the mental gymnastics I need to do to figure out how these pants stay around the knees when someone is walking. How do these boys manage to strut when their pants clearly require a waddle?
Technically, Zero Hour, according to Google (because I checked) is the time when an operation or a coup is supposed to begin. Instinctively, I knew that. But this morning as I ambled the streets with a tired Maeby in tow, I couldn’t help feeling the phrase “zero hour” was an appropriate description for the moment. Maybe it’s because there were zero (do we pluralize zero grammatically?) other people on the streets with me. Maybe it’s because it was gentle 7 o’clock sunny with a 6 AM attitude. In my version of Zero Hour, everything’s gentle. Everything’s null.