Dangerous Compassions

special alien flower time love

Hey, the special cactus flowers bloomed, night before last.  I was in the bathroom yesterday morning, the window was slightly open, and I heard R outside tell H, “Hey, did you see these?”

And H had seen them, and I got excited because my friend in Henderson, hers bloomed about a week and a half ago, and I thought maybe ours were taking this year off.

When Ming and I went outside for our morning ride, I saw that yes, my hope was confirmed.

Wow, how do they glow like that?  They really are glowing, right?  They seem alien.  So lovely.  They smell amazing too!

I almost want to just sit by them, like this is the sacred time of the special flowers, and I’m just going to worship them while they last, as a sign of God’s love.  A very amazing God–she sends us such weird blessings.

Ming said it’s  Ours looks lusher, weirder, and lovelier.  Not sure.  Maybe a special version for here.

Or maybe this one?

There were several buds, so I think right now a few more are blooming.  I’m so scattered, but I’m glad some things I can pay attention to.

I think it’s amazing how dykey I can look in a skirt.  I guess it doesn’t look like a skirt in this picture.  I showed Ming, and he was admiring.  He likes my dykiness.  That makes two of us!  Probably my bestie does too.  So there are at least three of us.

Oh yeah, lanyards are historically lesbiany too, right?  Yeah!  I aspire to being a lesbian with a lanyard, super ept, saving the day.

I dreamt before of living in a post-apocalyptic lesbian separatist intentional community.  I had to leave suddenly and scratched a letter to someone I loved into the bark of a tree.  It was an important dream, for me.

I’ve never really been a lesbian, but never say never, right?  I was telling Ming last night how part of grieving is learning what the world is, without my mom living in it, but learning who I am without her also.  I rattled off ten different aspects of grieving off the top of my head.  I’d thought it was one thing.  How silly I was.

Also I was telling Ming an idea that’s really important to me and I think about all the time but never talk about.  My ex was super into science and was an atheist, I think.  Agnostic?  I forget.  Somewhat anti-Christian, at the time.

He said Christianity is a boat, and they throw the smart people off the boat, so the boat gets more and more stupid.  He read the news a lot, and I think he’d just read a thing that demonstrated this idea–a cut in funding for some science thing, maybe.  He could be angry, about the politics of it.

When I did my undergrad, I was in the College of Creative Studies, which is a small college within the university with more freedom and a very different MO and feel.  Also there are no grades, almost no general ed requirements, and the classes are very small.  My years there were amazing.

I heard someone say the brilliant people would leave the regular College of Letters and Science, giving their brilliance to the College of Creative Studies, so the vibrant, inventive, and special all congregate over in this other place, depriving the regular people of their excellence.

The idea is that it’s sad the regular people miss out, but also the culture as a whole misses out, as the regular people are surrounded by more regular people, so they reinforce each other.  The brilliant people become more strange, and will have more trouble connecting with the regular people, and maybe trouble getting funding years later or whatever logistical thing.

Then I think about how my neighbors to the west seem horrible and scare me, always screaming at each other, and I don’t talk to them, but I wish I could.  Ideally, I would like them and connect with them and love them as myself.

If I say, “You’re horrible and I don’t like you–I’m going to go hang out with the anarchists,” then maybe their lives get boringer, and they don’t see there are alternatives to the sad lives they live.  I deprive them of my ideas and values, because I want to protect myself from them or seek fun or people who I can relate to better.

Ideally I wish I could talk to anyone can find common ground with anyone, but it doesn’t really work that way.  Riding my trike, I get to wave and smile at many neighbors, who like the sight of a happy fat woman triking by and are delighted by me.  Most of these neighbors are older Black people, and most of my friends are not older Black people.  So it feels extra good to diversify who I’m connecting with, even if it’s just a friendly hello.

I see in local organizing–if a group does a wrong thing, they can get blacklisted forever.  Different groups hate each other, someone won’t work with someone else, and it starts feeling scary, like no mistake can ever be made.  I get terrified of stepping any direction and just freeze.

Did I just make my life harder or ruin something for an organization I love, by clicking “like” on this other org on facebook?  They did this wonderful thing.  But so and so hates them.  Oh no–should I unlike them?

There needs to be a middle place between requiring perfection and tolerating abuse.  If no one else can be good enough ever, do we want to be an island of perfection?  Ideally it would be–I see you’ve made mistakes, but we have so much in common, and I will set aside our differences to work with you.

But people who have been marginalized, dismissed, and kicked aside, how can we compromise more?  Yeah, it hurts.  Feelings are involved, and so much trauma from having to accommodate cruelty.  So behaviors can escalate–tensions escalate.

“Screw you guys–I’m going home,” doesn’t get a lot of organizing done.  I’ve seen so many activists struggle with it.  Defining what our deal breakers are.  So and so talks to the cops, which is unforgivable, so I will turn my back on them.  Or this group did this bad thing.  This group represents the system.  They cater too much to power.  So they’re bad.

I’m about nonviolence, building bridges, listening, caring, nurturing, playfulness, humor, love, consent, touch, finding middle ground.  There are things I won’t tolerate either.  I want to be forgiving and say that redemption is often possible.   I’m always learning about that, in my personal relationships but also as an activist.

Alliances can be so strengthening.  When the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective joined forces with the Happy Earth Market for one of our recurring events, that was so wonderful, to meet these people, share this beautiful space, and intermingle for a specific thing.  It felt enlivening.  What a good idea.

It can be easier to hate people who are more like us.  My friend says, “It’s easier to punch left.”  The liberals, progressives, and left radicals fight with one another, while the big right does whatever fascism.  It can be easy to get swept up in that.  I guess we have to juggle a lot of projects, and then each project has its aspects too.

When the palo verde tree in the courtyard bloomed its bright yellow flowers a few days ago, H said to me, “Did you see the tree bloomed?”  He likes to point out the flowers to me, and I say thank you, look, and appreciate the flowers.

But afterward I cry because they are so beautiful, and it’s his gift to me.  It’s so tender, it breaks my heart.  He doesn’t buy me flowers from a store, but he gives me flowers, more than anyone else does, by seeing them and drawing my attention to them.

He gets joy from my joy, improving my life with his everyday kindness–caring for the cats, raking the dirt, watering, sweeping the paths, keeping an eye on everything.  That’s love, if you ask me.  When he picks up the mat by my front door, sweeps the path there, shakes out the mat, and puts it back, making sure the mat is lined up in front of the door right.

I see that.  I want to hug him and tell him how important he is to me, but I wheel my trike through the gate and cry while I’m triking.

I thank him in his birthday card every year.  I tell him I love him in writing, and feel safer with him here, but I never tell him out loud.  He’s a Black man the age my dad would be, if my dad was still alive, and has had a much different life than my dad ever did.

So much keeps us apart, but the small gestures of love between friends and family members and community–it’s so beautiful we can do it at all.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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