Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
I saw your chalkings about love, queer love, everyone’s love, love, love, love, above all love, love is all you need. I am very glad that, for some of us, violence dissolves under the force of love and community and ukuleles and pizza at 1030PM. I am glad that, for some of us, love is resistance and purpose. It means your hearts are bigger and stronger than mine.
You see, I am a crab. I am a crab from the dune of Hard Knocks, and I have had my heart squished into my gills and guts while I struggled in the tide. It is three sizes too small, now. It has been crushed by:
“Yeah, New Hope is overrun by faggots. Hehehehe, every time I’d see a couple, holding hands on the sidewalk, I’d try to hit them with my car. Hehehehe, you should have seen the looks on their faces, stupid faggots. They’d scream and run away, finally quit holding hands.”
(I was five, you see, listening to my father relive memories of his college days — which also included impersonating homeless people in really degrading ways to fudge a soc/anth project, kidnapping and stranding a fraternity brother, who was suffering from severe mental health issues, in an unknown cornfield and probably a lot of sexual assaults, honestly — and I sat there and thought it was funny because he was giggling,
but I didn’t know who faggots were because I had never in all my life heard about or, god forbid, seen a queer man or couple,
but I didn’t realize until I was nine they were me, people who loved people that they shouldn’t love,
and it took me until I was nineteen before I could understand that only someone who should be put down, someone I wish someone put down, yeah, like that, dead in a puddle of his own foam and brains,
would have told his child, giggled about trying to murder anyone, even if it was maybe some masturbatory fantasy to his str8 masculinity that he was always frowning at, frightened of and turning over in his hands, too much/not enough the son of his father).
That was/is my father, who taught me in so many ways that you can’t always love the hate and pus and poison out of someone, that sometimes you need to pick up a phone or a knife or scream in his/a face or to a friend or hide beneath a bed or in someone else’s backyard or fight back, push him off balance, wrench his/THEIR bad thumb almost out of its joint.
It must be because I also have a tiny brain (as some of THEM have politely informed me) that I am confused because THEY told me, THEY the Teachers and Priests and Big People and Police, THEY told me that fathers love you unconditionally and protect you. But if not even my father can love me, because I love people who THEY don’t want me to love, if my father wants to kill me, wants me dead, feeds me my bruised body as a punchline to his jokes — no, I am sorry, it hurts my tiny brain too much, this idea that there can be love for everyone, that it will fix THEM.
And because this sharp pain between my gills and my guts is too small, three sizes too small, I have only a little bit of love, and I only have love for you, darlings, even the ones I hate. And I love that you can love more and brighter than I ever will, and I love that you’re braver than me with your love and vulnerability and open arms, and I love that you chalk hope and hearts. I do not care what THEY think about our many responses, about your responses; I think you are perfect and luminous.
I love you too, the older ones who are tired and yet still talking, kindly and gently, educating. I love your tact and deliberation and diplomacy. I am impressed by those things and your grace and elegance and trickery. I wish I had your patience and wisdom and strength, and I love your endurance and agility. Thank you for teaching me a little of that language, smiling through me stepping on your toes eighty-five thousand times.
And because I am ruined already and because I love you, I promise that if one of THEM ever tries to hurt you or me or us or even people who aren’t us, if one of THEM tries to hurt anyone because of us, people who love people we shouldn’t love, I promise I will scream back, over them, pop their eyes with my keys, their reproductive organs with my knees, I will tear out hair or spit out my Medusa stare. I will laugh at everything they say, I will laugh at them and their feelings, I will make them feel little and lost. I will fight and fight and fight in every way and be every monster in the closet THEY dreamed up, be worse than that monster, a technicolor nightmare in full 3D.
I love you all, and I love all our chalkings, and I love that campus right now is skittles-colored with our words. It’s a wonderful way to go, walking through so much love. Thank you for the send-off.