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I wrote this from the comfort of my own home in Richmond. I can't go to demonstrations, positive or negative, anymore. I don't feel right writing under my own name.
Since the events in Charlottesville I've almost gotten in more fist-fights. I've attempted suicide twice. I spent a week and a few days in the mental hospital at VCU. My self-harm habit has returned with a vengeance. I would never say that the events in Charlottesville were why I did those things. But all my typical defenses are kaput. When that car went through that crowd, the accumulation of defenses I had put together broke like a levee hit with a deluge and my life since has been a flooded mess.
The events there made obvious to me a truth I had long time felt but could not reckon: you are not like the others. The alienation I had always felt was made very physical and transformed through the reality of being now a part of history with a few other hundred people. With an added caveat: I was close enough to the crash that I heard it and saw one of the mirrors from James Fields's car door fly through the air. I have never heard anyone tell me they saw it as well, but I didn't see nothing fly through the air. I am alienated even from survivor reports.
I have never processed if I thought I saw that or if I actually did. I have not processed Charlottesville. I never will. I am just lucky enough that I can write about it.
This is the work I completed the week before anniversary. These vignettes are not in order. They are just life lived after the event. I have relegated myself to the simple reality nobody but the people I was there with will understand what I saw and felt that day and trying to "nail" this feeling is like trying to make jello stay in one place. Even that's a crapshoot.
Since the event I have tried to get better about accepting things as they are. Nobody can change how this recollection was written or how I experienced history. This is not for those who would change it to create some sort of greater narrative coherence.
I don't know who I'm writing this for. I've got nothing. This is all I have.
1. At a noise/metal show, this stringy hair kid in a band showed me his signed copy of The Body's All The Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, signed by the Band. He had a self promotor's energy. We talked about where we were from. He told me he was from Charlottesville. I don't say my opinion of other people's homes, but he told me his.
"I fucking hate it. And the fucking nazis are coming back. I've been meaning to use my gas mask for something other than shows." How do you do, fellow antifa? I don't think you're familiar with 18.2-422: prohibition of wearing masks in certain places unless you have the permission of the city and it's a holiday. And August 12 isn't a holiday.
2. In front of my house somebody parked an F150 with an American flag hanging from the bumper. I walked into my front door and thought to myself -- you probably don't even hear it when it happens.
I'm not complaining. I'm just cautious.
3. August 12 is a Sunday and will be Monday Eve for most. They'll spend it out at dinner with their families and never once think about the fact somebody got ran over by a Dodge Charger and got to spend her last moments convulsing on a hospital stretcher or on the pavement. As a person who was there, I do feel better knowing somebody will share a Facebook post the same way people post pictures of Pogs or Street Sharks: remember this? 90s radical kids will remember.
4. I'm haunted by this protest sign somebody posted right after the Trump election during that initial wave of protests: if Hillary had won, we'd be at brunch. Nothing defines the privileged liberal mindset towards evil more. Far out on the distance are a monstrous collection of ogres and ghouls and goblins who you can see if you squint your eyes just enough. And all we have to do to defeat Sauron/Voldemort/Drumpf is find A Hero who can do a clapback or mic drop so epic it returns us all to order, so we can all have Brunch, the holiest meal of all, a holy sacrament that never had its origins as the week's leftovers.
Of course, they don't give a shit about origins. They say "This is not normal" in the same country that had one of its major city's police forces attack a group of black activists with a bombing campaigns. Give it up for liberals, everyone. The real MVPs, the ones who keep everyone's seats warm at brunch tables.
5. It's kind of funny. I was at this party in Glen Allen a coworker told me he could tell I was super liberal. And I thought, "You sweet summer child. If only you knew."
6. I can't go to demonstrations anymore. The last one I tried to go to right as I walked out the door, I broke down in tears. I laid in bed and watched Blast of Silence.
When activists look at me and see something worth rebuking, is it because they know the best word to describe my condition is: coward?
At this point I'm not publishing under my real name not so much out of a fear of anyone I know getting doxxed as I am afraid of doxxing myself as yellow as I always have been.
Somebody who loved me once said to me I felt like somebody who would defend her from White Supremacists. She had more reason to be scared than me. But now I look back and wonder whatever made her think that was the case.
7. This weekend, there was a demonstration in Portland. I couldn't tell you what happened. I couldn't bring myself to read that, either.
8. I think the only way I'll ever be satisfied with my political involvement is for my politics to get me killed. I say I think because if I was dead I wouldn't be able to feel satisfied. And when I see people talk about getting involved, all I can think is I wish I never had, but I was never one for leaving well enough alone. I could never eat brunch.
9. I bet you forgot who Heather Heyer was. I bet you wish you had memory for all that trauma. I mean, you want to be involved, right?
10. I haven't put on that Atlanta Braves hat I wore that day since, but I'll never throw it away.
11. Reason 302 I'm angry about August 12th, 2018: I can't listen to John Brown's Body anymore. There went a favorite past-time of mine.
12. That Friday, the night before a vigil and two days before the sequel in DC, I got drunker than I did in awhile. I had been having a bad week at work and I needed some sort of way to let loose. It was about 4:30 in the morning and I had left my keys at home due to a mix-up, so I was on my friend's couch.
We managed to not talk about the event for a good while but it got there, sooner or later, because all roads lead to the connected trauma when you share that trauma with friends. So my friend said something: "It's like you guys were in the picture with the girl running from napalm."
I googled the picture. Then I googled her. She made it to 55. I wonder if I'll make it that long. But I know there's still hope. However, all we see and know of the napalm is a girl got away. But there were the people who died in the attack. And she isn't the only person in that photo: there's quite a few. And more than them are the people who survived, who have no photos of them. There are the people who were in the fallout, the bystanders. People who ran and had no documentation.
This is my documentation of how I ran, but I don't think I'll ever be able to run fast enough.