When I was a kid, the nearest light I could see from my own house was a quarter-mile away. Sally and Doug lived there. I knew their daughter, Julie. The next nearest light was more than a mile away, but I could see it across the fields that grew wheat and milo, depending on the time of year. I didn’t know them.
I’m not sure how it started. The dream of living somewhere else. It seems like it’s always been there. I had no idea how I was going to live in the city. Buildings and skyscrapers and busy sidewalks, subways and restaurants; I lived in the middle of nowhere. I had no business in the city. I had no business being surrounded by light.
And I’m still not sure how I got here. Standing on a sidewalk snapping the streets I dreamed about when I was a child. It’s not quite how I imagined it to be. I still carry the expanse of Kansas with me. Inside my head, there is nothing between us but empty countryside a mile in each direction. And maybe you can feel it, the distance. It’s ok. I don’t know how else to live.
But I can see your light. And I’m drawn to it. To what it means, to who you are, to what the future holds.
Let’s talk about light.
Throughout the entirety of my life, the view I take in has always seemed slightly off. Even in this photo, the buildings angle in strange ways, the yellow stripe is off-kilter; and yes, it was the wide-angle lens, but it was also the perspective I believed most worth capturing — mostly shadow, a little light — angles. The feeling of emptiness in a city that is far from empty.
When I played guitar during my youth, I could never keep a beat. I still can’t. I never noticed until I was in college when I tried to record a song for the first time and my dear friend, who plays guitar for a living, looked at me like I was crazy. Even now, if you catch me thumping my foot to a song, listen long enough and I’ll fall off.
Thinking back further, growing up in church, when we clapped for Jesus, my clapping would, without fail, fall away from the clapping of others around me.
It’s always been a problem.
Like with anything in my life, I try to ascertain what this small eccentricity means. The short answer is, I don’t know. And this used to bother me. I wanted to strum a guitar right, clap right, find the centered perspective of a photograph.
Then again, maybe it was never supposed to be that way. Not even the Earth rotates around the sun in a perfect circle.
Trump has barely been elected for 12 hours and already, protests are spreading across the country.
Like most white liberals, I was in shock at what happened. I shouldn’t have been. I should have seen it coming, gripped hold of the truth early and did all that I could to change the minds of my friends and family. But I didn’t and that’s a mistake I have to live with for the rest of my life.
What’s worse is that these friends and family members don’t realize what they’ve done. And they won’t understand until it’s too late. The Christian Evangelicals were sold on lies and the Bible Belt lined the fuck up. The most un-Christian man in America was sold as savior to the people in the South and Midwest.
Hate crimes against African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, and immigrants have already started. Breitbart is going to set American policy because Trump is incapable of governing. If you want to know how dark this can possibly go (like I do), then I recommend the work of Sarah Kendzior (a fellow Missourian).
I have sins to pay for. And I’m going to pay them. This fight is my fight. This fight is your fight. We have to get to work.