Alternate Histories: 6/5, 4/22


[These two came up together.]

Her: I’m not worried about that.

What are you worried about?

I don’t know — dying?

Him: I don’t fear that. Not really. I just live, knowing that everything’s gonna come to an end, just live life while you’re alive.

Is that your philosophy too?

Her: I guess, if I can?

Him: But lemme ask you something. You know the Bermuda Triangle? You think global warming has anything to do with the Bermuda Triangle?

Her: I blame it on God.

[I give them the pileated woodpecker RI organism card.]

Her: I hate these things! When I grew up in East Greenwich, they would always be outside my window, [makes woodpecker sound effect].

Him: Yeah but she almost had a panic attack the other day when we were down here. There were these birds that were beating up this other bird, and like trying to have sex with it and stuff and it looked like it had a broken leg, and she was freaking out. I called Animal Control and they said Animal Control don’t come for pigeons. Just like the cops don’t come to the ghetto.



There are two versions of this story: one where Y and JJ continue to fuck with each other and one where they don’t. But in both versions of the story, they can be tender to each other and to the open world. Either one of them can leave anytime, because while they’re finding out whether they like each other enough to stick around, we will be building so many places where they can sleep.

If they have a baby, maybe Y can’t really trust her mom anymore but she has three sisters and a brother living, a nana, her nana’s girlfriend, a bunch of good friends, JJ’s mom and aunts, and the buildings and streets they all grew up calling the ghetto–a place where someone stronger than you packs you in, pushes you together–they’ve made into a tough open structure, flexible, with holes to spend the wind and a thousand opportunities for departure and return. Y’s sister walks the baby through the streets at night with about 10 other people, some carrying babies, one or two walking dogs, silently or speaking quietly so as not to disturb the sleepers. They are the night watch.

This has become a story about sleep because everyone needs sleep in plenty and in this story, they can have as much as they want most of the time, unless there’s a flood or a storm or a fire. If a baby is hungry or someone is sick and needs care, there are plenty of people to take turns rising from their beds and falling back into their beds. If a coyote’s whining or a set of starlings making robot noises, trees creaking, maybeetles whacking against the screen, spirits abroad, those are just things that happen in the night. But nights are mostly quiet, certainly free of gunfire, certainly free of the invasive weight of a body you don’t want near you. Maybe Y and JJ don’t have a baby because she doesn’t want to, maybe they think about it and decide against it, maybe she wants to go elsewhere, maybe he does, maybe her nana and her nana’s girlfriend do. Just as they take turns sleeping, they can take turns leaving.

There are as many versions of this story as there are places where Y and JJ can sleep, together or not together. Sleep safely, wake up, walk whole: the more we build, the more versions of the story there can be.

3 thoughts on “Alternate Histories: 6/5, 4/22

  1. Pingback: Alternate History: 5/17, 4/30 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/5, 6/13, 9/21 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate History: A Just Transition | climateanxietycounseling

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