Linda Rand with her next Pandemic Diaries installment “Give Space,” about the effects of the Portland protests and the need to experience nature.
Morning glows softly behind the curtains through a veil of rain. There’s been a heat wave with the earth parched like a sour tongue, so this is a delight. He gets to stay in our church of bed saying nature’s doing his work for him today. There are trees and chickens outside. Over the last month, I’ve learned that he makes a little laugh when he’s happy.
We are an island of sensation surrounded by a void. The void was the dearth of touch and interactions with people during this pandemic. The void is the uncertainty of our fate. Will we live in a democratic country after November? Will we continue to have the Postal Service? And as COVID numbers are rising, what will the death toll be?
Portland finally pushed the Feds off, but the local police are still experts at wielding brutality while chasing citizens through residential neighborhoods, American people exercising their First Amendment rights, the people they are supposed to “serve and protect.” The PPB shove protesters down while simultaneously yelling, “Get up!” removing masks as they spray people directly in the face while pinning them with their knees. They bull rush, devour the space with their aggression, and aim less lethal munitions directly at cameras and heads, targeting press and medics.
When we first started spending time together, I had chants stuck in my head from protesting. I’d be immersed in our conversation over drinks, but when there was a lull I’d hear it, No Good Cops in a Racist System, in the background of my mind’s memory, Stay together, Stay tight, We do this every night! like the rhythmic murmuring of ocean waves, an ambiance of my mind echoing.
To support activism is to believe that all is not lost, that our society is not lost.
In the early days of the protests, I made tear gas wipes for people. But as the Feds and BORTEC started taking over around day 40, the air became too thick with spray for anything less than a mask. The terminology was “spicy.” I started considering gas masks online so I could stay out later.
Then, I hit an emotional and psychological wall of insomnia and stress. The timing was good because the numbers of protesters for BLM rose to the thousands: mothers in yellow and fathers with leaf blowers, veterans, lawyers, doctors … so many Portlanders came forth and I felt that I could step back, in more ways than one. I wanted to take a break sharing my thoughts as well. I’ve been tired of my thoughts. What do they really add and is it necessary? I want to listen. I feel it necessary to make the space to be receptive, to learn.
Once in a while, I get to drive away from Portland. Then it’s just us and the freshness of getting to know someone on a deeper level as I explore who I am with someone new. The exhilaration of tabula rasa. The humbling experience of wanting to appreciate the sacredness of something unmarred. Don’t fuck it up! When he finds out I want to be in nature, he invites me to camp on the mountain. There’s a lake warmed by the sun.
I want to hold this temporal space, celebrate this pause in a brief moment of life. I’m inviting a flowering of where I stand because this is how we remember what we are fighting for. Everyone deserves to feel pleasure, a happy satisfaction, an opportunity to get closer to beauty. To support activism is to believe that all is not lost, that our society is not lost.
In this space of quiet I’ve given myself over the last month, I finished Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist. He says, “Racism is not even 600 years old. It is a cancer that we’ve caught early. But racism is one of the fastest spreading and most fatal cancers humanity has ever known. It is hard to find a place where its cancer cells are not dividing and multiplying. Once we lose hope, we are guaranteed to lose. But if we ignore the odds and fight to create an antiracist world, then we give humanity a chance to live in communion, a chance to be forever free.”