(I hope/ the world loves you today)
It surprises me how much I know. Maybe it’s years of scrounging the internet for answers. Maybe it was the Media Literacy course in university I paid way too much money for; in fact, I’m still making payments on, and perplexed by infatuation, I barely pay attention but it’s enough to save me later on. Most likely it’s my parents. I hate to admit it, but culture, tradition, way-of-being that dates back thousands of years, it hurts to even fathom it and I run away. It never lets me get away. It knows me better than I know myself. I know it better than I know myself. The internet it too young to understand these things. Even more likely, it’s all the lives I had to live, 13 years there, 5 years here, another 5 years over there, and I think, I didn’t have much say but all the same I had to live it, each of it, one day at a time, year after year, compartmentalized so much, I don’t know what mattered most, what mattered least, what didn’t count for a damn thing. (Ah yeah/ fuck the judge/ I made it past 25)
And so I sit in the street car, intoxicated by the feeling that only comes from belonging, from being understood, while surrounded by different faces, different lives, and I write these words. I feel victorious over the long gone days of hours spent reading 140-character tweets and headlines masquerading as truth; trying to persuade me to give up the books, the stories, the realities of my life all around me. The hashtags that never lived up to reality anyway, if I dared to question, if I dared to demand answers. But I welcomed them all the same and believed— it was easier to believe— that the internet had all the answers. Google, Google, on the screen, who is the prettiest of all? Who has the truth? Who knows it all better than I know any of it, if at all?
I haven’t consumed the news since 2017: “part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan.” As with many things in my life, I was inspired by a random internet person: I hope he is okay. One regular day, five years ago, young, dumb, and senseless— the best time for making decisions that don’t care for neither outcomes nor repercussions, knowing you will live forever— I made the decision to not know. In a world obsessed with information and being informed, I simply declared, on a day so random I can’t remember whether it was a hot summer day or in the midst of my winter blues, that I do not want to know. (I’m guardin’ my feelings/ I know that you feel it) I got all my news from twitter anyway. How intoxicating it was to know so little and pretend to know it all; to read the headlines, clear my throat, and have the audacity to proclaim, “*ahem* excuse me, yes actually.” How smart I felt with so little, and I understood even less of it. All that information consumed for 2+ hours each day, the articles skimmed, the headlines after headlines I devoured until I believed, all the while I remained blissfully ignorant. (How many sins/ I lost count)
Five years later, especially lately, I find myself entirely too disinterested in whatever information is out there. Can someone know enough? I feel I’ve had enough of it, all of it. Partly, it’s due to all my effort to spend more time offline. (Shit don’t change/ Until you get up and wash your ass) I pay attention to reality; I see things, and I watch carefully, I hear the random conversations, while pretending not to listen, and I feel spring on my skin, and I know, I know, I know. In fact, I feel I know more now— without the news, without the articles, without the think-pieces, without the status updates, without, without, without— than I did back when I consumed all the information my senses could tolerate for hours on end. Reality is far more interesting, and it tells me all that I need to know. (If these walls could talk/ They’ll tell me to go deep) If you could hear the half of it, manage to understand even a minuscule amount of it, you would close your eyes and scream. My curiosity, which killed the cat, gets the best of me. Maybe it’s the boredom of living without, and so I listen. I nod, I ask questions. I listen again and again, and again because I have nothing better to do, and they all say things to me I need to know. There was so much on the news, on the internet, I simply did not need to know, things I couldn’t fully understand anyway.
Five years later, I hear about the scandal during dinner. “Wait, what happened?” I ask curiously as I sip on my drink, noting how deliciously the Barbados Gosling Rum pairs with the ginger beer and fresh lime— I add a quick note in the Notes app on my phone. The table is *beyond* willing to recap in details, with bits missing here and bits added over there; all the juicy parts of the story. “Omgggg,” I shriek with delight. Commentary ensues as we discuss men, power and infidelity, all the while cracking bare jokes. In between, someone asks me incredulously, “How do you not know about this?” Someone chimes in on my behalf, “she’s not on social media.” “Oh, wow, anyway…” I get my news. Another time, my dad calls me and we banter as usual; how I’m always eating when he calls, and he’s somehow always right. “Do you ever leave the kitchen?” I laugh, “You know me,” and he remembers why he called. “Are you working from home tomorrow?” He knows I must not have heard about it. “I might go to the office, why?” There’s a snowstorm warning, he tells me, says it’s probably nothing bad, you know how they are always guessing, tells me a story in Ethiopia, something about the king praising the donkey, with its ears erect when sensing rain storm, because it can tell the weather more accurately than a meteorologist. I laugh, we agree.
I long for these stories passed generation after generation, with parts missing, parts improvised, all the while the essence remains in tact. “What was that donkey story again?” I ask him the next time I see him; he laughs and tells me again. After we get off the phone, I do my due diligence, check the weather on my phone app, Google weather warnings for [city], and I stay home. It ends up being a big snow storm. We call again, we joke; “I guess they guessed right this time“— I’ve perfected vocalizing my eye-roll over the phone. In any case, the news, the scandal, the snow storm warning still reach me. I prefer it over drinks, banters, and stories from back home that bring me home. (If I told you that/ a flower bloomed in a dark room/ would you trust it?) Better than 140-characters that care more about my attention than my well-being. It gives us, my dad and I, separated by generations, separated by loss, separated by so much it hurts, something to talk about, then something else; something far more important than the weather.
Last time, at a restaurant long after the injera is off the table, my dad tells me a story about his life from back home. Registering my distress, he says, “yeah, yeah, but you know that was just life then,” and I want to close my eyes and scream. I learn how a loss from back, back, back in the days, a time before time, thousands upon thousands of miles away, back before I existed, before I even mattered, can be a loss in the present. Why me? I used to feel sorry for myself. Why him? I wonder now. Why anyone? There are no answers, nobody to hold accountable, to scream at, “look what you have done.” To scream until it splits your head open; for all the loss, pain, suffering that sustains generation after generation. (And if these bottles could talk/ I cry myself to sleep) And so I carry it one day at a time, day after day, year after year, and I know I’m not alone; my father, his father, his father’s father’s father’s, and everyone before then, now, and yet to come, we all carry this burden of the living. I know enough to understand now, mostly by paying attention and listening, and asking questions: I have got the time, the attention, the interest. A lot of time remains when you go offline, a lot of attention and interest for your one wild, precious life, and you can take the time to turn to those you love, those who love you even when they fail to find the words nor the energy to say it out loud to you, and you ask, “what happened to you?” so you can finally answer the question that’s been bugging you for eternity: “What happened to me?” (But the one/ in front of the gun/ lives forever)
P.s. many, many, many thanks to Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, To Pimp A Butterfly, for keeping me company today, yesterday, and well into tomorrow. All lyrics are (in bracket and italicized.) Thank you to Hoopla for the reminder, Returns in 3 days, and I listen. I appreciate.
Until next time,
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