And a typewriter.
From those seemingly innocuous things arose these many words written to share with the rest of the world my little part of the national quarantine experience here in the supposed backwaters of flyover country.
Despite the fact that I often complain, to just about anyone who will listen, about how hard the writing is and how exhausting and draining it can be constantly chasing down the words, I am proud of what I have here created. Where once there was only an isolated emptiness, now there is something else that helps fill that space. I unflinchingly stared down the worst that a global pandemic, and accompanying civil unrest, could throw at me and I fought that shit back with just a typewriter, night after night.
Though at times it felt like I was slipping under the currents, and occasionally left feeling the exhausted compulsion to just give in and surrender, I instead dug deep, rolled in a new page, and kept on typing. Not only did that help fill the seemingly endless hours of an unexpected quarantine, but it also helped me to find my voice, both artistically and politically.
And I will continue carrying those lessons, and that voice, forward to face whatever that next tomorrow might bring because if nothing else, we should all now be expecting the unexpected.
It’s just been that kind of year.
I have also found myself talking with more strangers over the past 100 days than I ever had previously. And actual conversations, too, not just simple social platitudes offered in the finite space of a random retail transaction.
At first those conversations sprang from my selfish need for some form of human contact beyond that found emanating from a screen. But later, as the habit grew, I realized that it was what I should have been doing my whole life because it allowed me to share in some truly remarkably memorable moments.
I spoke to that girl at the store with captivating eyes. Though brief, I learned that her name is Mary and to hear her laugh from behind that mask was the best song yet played during the whole of this pandemic. The connection is there, but much like the City of Wayne opening itself back up, I am going to approach her in cautious increments for fear of spoiling something potentially beautiful.
And should the moment ever come when she scans my code across the register of her heart, I hope that it is a smooth transaction and not one where she goes “BEEP! Get the fuck out of my bagging area!”
I stood on the sidelines of a peaceful protest in the heart of this City of Wayne and had a remarkable conversation with an older black man who, like me, was standing out on the periphery.
I approached him and asked if he would have ever expected to experience anything like what was happening that night on courthouse green, witnessing so many races and generations coming together, united under the banners of unity and fairness.
His deep, thoughtfully tired eyes began to water a bit as he recounted his many experiences growing up in the south during the 1960s and all the awful things he personally experienced.
And then he answered my question.
I am not going to betray his confidence by writing his answer. Instead, I will simply say that that particular conversation is what helped keep me in the streets for the succeeding days, despite the tear gas and rubber bullets and derogatory comments shot my way.
There was the conversation shared on different night, after another day spent marching in the streets, with a girl who would eventually ask to hug me. And after that hug, I raced home to my typewriter to catch that experience and to document that amazingly tender moment of a mutually respectful humanity shared.
Those words and conversations went softly viral, just in a way different than most people would expect. And I am okay with that. There is time for all that nonsense later, after all the final polishing and editing and suffering through the inevitable flood of rejections heading my way, barreling down on me like another pandemic wave.
The important thing is that I survived this, these last 100 days that proved to be the crucible in which the foundation of my art was truly formed. And I am thankful for that experience. It is one thing saying that there is beauty to be found in the dark, but it is something else entirely actually doing the fucking work and making that beauty happen.
And, that is what I always tried to do here with these words, create something beautiful. Even when it came across as nonsensical juvenile ramblings. Even when it often read as some hipsterish, overly analytical suicide note, to the point where people compassionately reached out, just to make sure that I was okay. Even when it made people cry.
And for what it might be worth, I was often here crying, right alongside of them.
I have frequently been told that when I write, I write hard. Or that sometimes my words are raw and unflinching. And while that may be objectively true, that was never my original intent. I just wanted to be honest- about every emotion and experience, whether it was the fear of uncertainty weighing me down, or the emptiness left in someone’s passing that had me caught and left me struggling to find my way to the next day dawning over this, the fine City of Wayne.
Maybe that is the curse of the writer’s soul being inadvertently exposed. Everything that I do and feel in this life seems to be wrapped up in an unexpectedly voracious sense of passion. And that underlying passion all too often pushes the highs even higher and the lows that much lower. I have never really been one to half-ass anything, instead much preferring to whole-ass the experience for whatever it is, good or bad. Delightfully endearing, or soul-stompingly sad.
And then write about it, as honestly and as transparently as my words allow.
But as with everything, these words, at least in their current form, must come to an end. This little flyover town has opened back up so I must shift my focus back to living my life as best I can as I try to navigate the uncertainty of deciphering the definitions of the new normal. I have to busy myself with chasing down the next story with which to occupy my time as I face down an unpredictable world still trying to sort itself out as statues and outdated ideologies come tumbling down.
I began the quarantined isolation 100 days ago a smaller man, afraid of the dark and a virulently unseen adversary threatening destruction at every touch. I stand here on the other side a stronger man, no longer afraid to use his words, or his voice, to fight for what is right and to go boldly on into that next adventure waiting for him within the peculiar confines of this City of Wayne.
To all who have visited these pages, and read these words, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to share in the experience of me. I truly hope that you found something worthwhile.
And, since I am a man of my word, here is the cheesy song I promised, played to both fade out this particular story, but also to provide the start of a new soundtrack for that next day dawning.
I love you all.
~#) Typewriter Fox (#~