On January 22, I drove back from Washington, D.C. The day before, I’d been one of the 500,000 that filled out Independence Avenue, one of the specks in those awe-inspiring aerial shots that plastered the news. I’d been cold and hungry and dehydrated and I had not felt any of that discomfort until I sat down for dinner later that night and nearly wept at the sensation of sinking into a seat.
Even if they don’t, even if our stories are met with apathy, with disdain, I believe our enduring anger and our passion require them. These stories sustain my activism because they make concrete the issues that, for me, have always had a certain looming intangibility to them. Scripts are not enough, and they were never meant to be enough. The best thing my scripts ever did was open up a channel to the people in my community. To force me to ask the questions that I had never thought to ask.
When I finally dared to return to my building, I saw a trail of glass, which led me to the gaping space where my front door had been. With the entrance wide open to the outside, my apartment no longer looked like an indoor space. The carpet was dirty and matted from the morning traffic of heavy footprints.The linoleum floor was streaked with mud. My sofa had disappeared under a layer of drop cloth; my other furniture had been shoved into the middle of my kitchen.
I learned, in those years, how to write when I did not feel like writing. I learned how to write when inspiration did not come. How to write when every word felt wooden and false. And I learned, also, how to feel guilty on the days when I could not bear to write even a single, shitty sentence.
Needless to say, her signature dishes were delicious. Yet it became strange and almost uncomfortable to see her bent over the stove, night after night, in a way that it never was in the past when I’d seen her, bent over the stove, night after night. One dinner, she stood in the kitchen for what seemed like hours, searing small batches of sweet and salty bulgogi beef. I wanted to tell her to sit down, to relax, but instead, I just ate everything she put in front of me.