Tick-tock, Time for Change
Updated: Feb 23, 2021
When I was nineteen I ran up something like 6 speeding tickets in the same number of months. Enough to earn a points suspension of my license, which I ignored and then I got pulled over, lost my car and my license flat out revoked, each of those tickets had a fine attached, not all of which I paid. I was actually lucky to not get arrested at any point with cuffs and a squad car. My step sister was going to army training over the weekend and her XO told her that I had a warrant out for my arrest. I was driven to the courthouse and in a span of a couple of days I was presented with an option: 5 days of jail or 30 days home arrest. I was between jobs, 30 days at home sounded like a reward for fucking up so bad. To this day I lament not taking the 5 days in jail. I tell an abbreviated version of my story above, often, to make the point: if you CAN choose between 5 days of what sound likes utter horror and more than 29 days locked in your home; I've experienced it so you don't have to. It sucks.
I feel like it's conceivable that at some other point in my independent adult life, after all the mess that led to those tickets and that arrest, I could have spent that much time in my home before, but I always had the choice to leave. I cannot express how trapping and suffocating that feeling is. House arrest was not a party. If you have a job they'll even work it out that you can still go, but I didn't. I thought it would be like summer break as a kid. But I had tasted freedom. I had a car before that happened. I could go wherever I wanted, see whoever I wanted, DO whatever I wanted. When all that was taken away I was so depressed, I wasn't even interested in doing anything. I played a LOT of video games and not much else. I was so disappointed in myself. I squandered my freedom and I had it taken away and after two weeks of my arrest, I had learned my lesson. Every single day after that was grueling and painful until the last 5 and I could count them down in anticipation for freedom once again. It seriously and permanently changed me. I have gotten various tickets sense, even a speeding ticket or 2, but I've paid all of them, immediately or sooner. I was not going to lose that much freedom ever again. I hate this. All of it. Way more than I thought I would. Less so, I suppose, than back then, I'm with much more supportive people than before, but I really like having the option to leave my dwelling whenever I want to. I certainly don't have a choice. My grandma is a high risk, and I'm not risking that. I started isolating a week before it was "cool". So, I'm not saying it's some sort of burden, and I'm filling the time, and I'm lucky to have a job I can work on from home, but man, does it bum me out. And after a solid month of it, I have beaten my previous record of compulsory "stay at home". I'm not sure how I might change after this one, but the added existential dread and uncertainty of length, is going to leave a similarly profound and lasting impression. That's not to even mention all the rest of the political shit going on. Obama was just elect the last time. I listened to this Worst Year Ever Podcast this week. It's kinda horrific, so listen at your own risk. The title pretty well sums it up "The Coronavirus Has Covered Up A War on Trans People", and it's pretty bleak, although Eva Cantor (@PoRiverJamBand on known alternate hellscape Twitter) is very clear and inspiring in confidence. But the situation is pretty dire, and it's likely going to get worse, and that upsets me for so many reasons, the least of which is that it's personal. Here's the thing though, it's been like that for a lot of people, for a long time. They discuss it in the podcast, broadly they lost the fight against gay marriage, and they don't want to lose another fight. And you know it's not just LGBTQ+ people who are trapped, by no choice of their own, in either hiding themselves or fearing the world outside. Trapped with the fear of abuse or even death simply for existing, so often with no end in sight, knowing that there may never be an end to people denying their legitimacy. It sucks to have to limit who you are and what you do out of fear of retribution. We shouldn't be scared to be what we are when we leave our homes, we shouldn't fear for our lives simply for existing. Taking that away is damaging and cruel. My least favorite thing, EVER, that my "friends" in high school did was whenever they punched me (happened way too often for so many reasons); and I would sincerely tell them that I didn't like how much it hurt; they would ALWAYS, without out fail, reply with "I didn't hit you that hard." I'm still not sure how to articulate why that's a really shitty response to someone telling you that you HURT them. Didn't hit me "that" hard? So? Maybe I'm just a wimp, you're calling me that anyway, so you SHOULD understand, you didn't have to hit me that hard for it to hurt. Or you're hitting me harder than you think? Or you could, I dunno, stop FUCKING hitting me?! So many choices. Anyway, we do that a lot. As Americans. "I didn't hit you that hard." Sometimes it's said different ways "I didn't mean to hit you" or "toughen up, you sissy" or "you deserved it". Whatever the flavor it's all the same message: even though you're the one in pain, and I'm the one causing you that pain, it's your fault, not mine. I don't know how I will have change when, or if, we find ourselves on the other end of this crisis. But I know this, a lot of people are, for the very first time in their lives, learning a lesson I learned a long time ago. It really sucks to lose your freedom by threat. The lesson I wish, beyond imagining, that the rest of this country learns is the empathy to realize that being trapped, by any means, is something no one should have to ever experience. No reasonable person would willingly choose to live like this. In fear all the time. To that end, we all need to be unified in keeping it from happening. We need to start listening sincerely to people who say they're hurting, and not blaming them, but asking how we can keep them from hurting. We all now know what it feels like to be trapped while just existing. Didn't do anything wrong, yet suffering anyway. It's awful, and we don't like it, we should stop doing it to people outside of a global pandemic.