My son fell asleep hugging the doggie and, before I went to bed, I saw pictures of Brown boys in cages and one of a Brown father who drowned with his Brown child in a brown river by a brown land and, while I looked at those pictures, I read about Men In Blue who rejoiced when they saw the same things.
There are six trees I touch on my walk to work and I am careful not to disturb the mosses and lichens that cover their skins. I talked to them for many days before I started reaching out and sharing the most tentative and gentle touches with them. I don’t want to assume that they want to be touched by me. I ask myself what consent looks like when it comes to hugging trees. I listen closely for the language we share that is older than words and I follow my heart.
And I think President Trump was also following his heart when he watched teenage girls strip naked to change their outfits at the beauty pageants he sponsored, and I think he was also following his heart when he pinned a journalist against a wall and shoved his hand down her underwear. What does his heart say? Grab ‘em by the pussy.
My daughter’s favourite thing is for me to get into bed with her when she falls asleep and she takes one of my arms and wraps it tightly around her and she tells me that she pretends I’m a great big stuffy—a giant teddy bear—and she falls asleep feeling safe. I tell her that in the world of dreams, when I get scared and feel like something terrifying might be coming, I turn into a white bear and the terror flees from my dream. She tells me that she turns into a blue unicorn with green eyes and, in her dreams, she helps take care of people who are in danger. I tell her I will look for her in my dreams and she says she will look for me in hers.
As she drifted off to sleep, I thought about how another local cop was just convicted of possessing child pornography and of paying people in other countries to film themselves having sex with children while he watched. He got eighteen months in jail. Assuming he didn’t already serve this time while waiting for the trial, and assuming he isn’t released early for good behavior, this means that, at the very latest, he will be out before my daughter is eleven. Lots of local cops have been charged with corruption, stalking, sexual assault, and other acts of violence against women and girls (and lots more have done the same things and never been charged). I have taught my kids that, if they get lost, they should ask a lady for help. Statistically, this is the safest option. Much safer than teaching my kids that cops are trustworthy.
Sometimes I want to strip off all my clothes, drop everything, shave my head and face, and see how far I can walk before they lock me up and medicate me back to accepting the way things are. I probably would have done this already if it wasn’t for Jessica.
My kids’ mom bought my son a hat that says “DON’T CARE” on it. I said, hey, I like your new hat and he said to me, Dad… I don’t care. And then he got that soft, half-shy smile he gets when he makes a clever joke and I laughed my loud laugh, the one I laugh when I am happily surprised, and I wrapped him up in my arms and kissed his head and smelled his hair.
Lying on the couch with the air conditioner on full, I try not to think about all the life that is we are exterminating. I find it so sad and strange that Canadians, those who occupy this stolen land and maintain that occupation through the ongoing use of force, often talk about the land as the thing that makes them so proud to be Canadian. Look at these mountains and forests and rivers and lakes and all the coastlines. And then they get furious if you try to suggest that we should not fill these places with pipelines and gas leaks and oil spills. Look at this beautiful land, they say. Let’s grab it by the pussy and fuck the shit out of it. God, it makes me cum so hard.
On overnight shifts at work, I pass time looking at pictures of Iceland.
Jessica wraps around me like sunlight caressing the first buds on the trees in spring. What joy, what joy. Sometimes I hold her when she cries and, sometimes, she holds me when I cry. We make a home together, her and I and the kids and the doggie and the kitty and the birdies and the fish. I listen to her heartbeat and hear the language of all that I have ever loved. All that has ever loved me. There is a lot of love in the world yet. The world, herself, is loving. I need to remember this. Jessica helps me remember.
All that is wrong in the world feels very, very big—getting bigger all the time—and I feel very, very small—getting smaller all the time. I hope my kids will be okay. I’m doing the best I can for as long as I can. Or at least I think that I am. I’m probably not the best person to evaluate that.
I hope more of us find more ways to be gentle with each other. I hope more of us find more ways to be tender-hearted. I hope more of us find more ways to be kind, and generous, and patient. I hope more of us find more ways to love. Because the forests are burning and the waters are rising and we’re going to have to find more ways to get through all this together. But we almost certainly won’t.
So I also hope, one day, to find a reason to believe that what I hope for might actually come to be. I hope, one day, to no longer view all my hopes as hopeless. That will be a good day.
And here is one last thing that I love: when Ruby is drawing in the dining room and Charlie is playing a game in his bedroom and Jessica is watching a show in the living room, and I am sitting on my bed doing nothing but listening to them. In these moments, I am content. And here is one last thing that I have learned: even if all of this is doomed, even if I am complicit in the heinous Canadian crimes of genocide and ecocide, even if I am smaller than small and can only effectively chase away the terrors in the world of dreams, contentment is still a thing worth knowing. Love taught me mourning, but love also reminds me that mourning is not all there is. And so I weep and I despair but I also laugh and play and say thank you. How lucky we all are to love and to be loved. What a wonderful gift life is.
Thank you very, very much.