As I listen to the man below my apartment railing — at passers-by, at god, at no one, at everyone — I realize he’s been shouting for at least 15 mins. It is so normal I normally drown it out. But it dawned on me, as I tried to unclench my shoulders: I can’t remember the last time I felt peace.
The constance is wearying. Ambulance sirens. Police wails and chirps and loudspeakers. Helicopters. Arguments. Fireworks. Gunshots. I cannot listen to a tv show, a podcast, often a single song, without it being drowned out by one of these things.
But it’s not just the noise. Even moments of eerie mid-day silence are tight-rope-taught. Like a rusty coiled spring threatening some unknown release. Like the string of a bow pulled so far back it feels ready to snap.
If I can steel myself against those externals, the moment I open my apartment door I see the neon green police seal on my neighbor’s door — there for almost 2 months now, left after they removed her body. A grim and stark reminder of the toll the pandemic is waging here. Every time I step outside my building I think of the 21-year-old man gunned down on Mother’s Day — whose motionless body I could see laying in the intersection from my window, watching in horror and grief as the scene was corded off. Another needless loss of life.
Another trauma for this city, this community, my psyche to carry.
I am exhausted.
I try to find an ocean wave from my memory. Or gentle breeze through wooded hills. Or any place free of tension.
But the desire for a lack of tension also feels incongruous right now, as speaking up again police violence and white supremacy requires tension, requires protest, requires resistance, requires voices and noise and energy. We cannot silence this justified rage. We cannot quell this groundswell demanding justice, demanding long-required change.
So here we are, as my phone jars it’s Emergency Alert – the nightly reminder of our curfew. The new normal. Peace feels a long way off. But a temporary disruption of my peace is nothing if we can move closer to peace for the Black bodies carrying centuries of tension on their shoulders.
View from my window, June 3, 2020