I hate some of the things that I know. Just hate them. There’s no zen in such a matter, no course in miracles’ing along, just a bleak bearing witness to reality here and now.
On checking into my hotel this afternoon, a couple entered the lobby behind me. Without even looking at them, I felt terrible tension; glancing only briefly at both of them, I knew—in a prehensile way—that their relationship is marked by him beating her. Often. How do I know this? I can’t really say. It is the smell of violence, the slight gestures, the way that eyes skitter off even the merest glance of an outsider like me: it all hits like a ton of dry rocks on a body that’s been stranded in the wilderness for nine years and then some; that’s how I know/feel it every time. I don’t ask for this; I sometimes don’t even want it: but it comes anyway, unbidden, unanticipated, and wholly unwelcome every last time.
That brief encounter was hours ago. At 1:54 a.m. local time, from a sound sleep, I awoke to the sounds of beating and screaming on the floor above and then the loud tramping footfalls of two people running down the stairs and exiting the back of the building. By the time I made it to the window of my room, they had cleared a grassy knoll beyond the parking lot, and he was about to catch up with her, hands outstretched, her going as fast as possible away, and then they both disappeared behind some trees to the city street beyond. As did the sounds.
Normally I would have done my best to bumble into it, acting like a slow-headed middling-age white Mississippian—which works nearly every time to dissipate most hostilities (including those of a seemingly non-violent and more genteel manner), but I was too slow to get up just now and not clothed or wits-gathered enough to leave the room. Normally, when that has been the case before, I have at least called the police. This time I cannot. This state has an awful record for police dealing with people who are not white-skinned. Calling the police might mean that I have played a direct role in one or both of their deaths. Leaving neither to learn and find other ways to be than where they are trapped now.
So I sit here awake, torn and wrestling with my conscience and body (which has its own direct ways of knowing these things), hoping against hope that I will hear them returning and see not violence but maybe a respite, some small signs of retreat from that angry abyss. And I also sit here hating what all I know and how I know it, yet fearing with an ageless fury what it would mean for such things to happen to real people all around me . . . and me be too clueless to pick up on the smells, the gestures, the terribly ordinary, often tiny details that signal love gone wrongheaded and mean.
Why do I say this to a blog? I don’t really know. I started composing on Facebook, but then remembered their algorithms, which prefer the happy-content posts, and came over here instead. My online front porch, to which I mostly talk to myself, or so it seems some days. Oh well. Life is not all about happiness and lightness or even being heard. Life also, and daily to boot, includes that against which we rail . . . or forego our own souls. I pray, sitting here in the long darkness, that those who are trapped in the wells of love gone wrong can somehow find their way out. I pray and I write, and I beg my own body to help me to survive these knowings.