Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Wiping clean the chalkboard: A reminder that the mundane is what makes up a life

I wiped clean the small chalkboard Patrick drilled into the wall, hung near the fridge so we can note when we’re running low on eggs, half and half, cheese. (We’re a fairly dairy-dependent household.) Cat food. Laundry detergent. I looked at the list, then went to the grocery store to restock. Trader Joe's was busy, people masked but no longer observing six feet of distance or one-way aisles. The pandemic and new variants dominant in other states, children now getting sick and transmitting the disease, but in L.A., with vaccinations on the rise and our earlier spike, restrictions are relaxing.

Watching the chalk disappear into the breeze was a quieting moment, words erased, tasks done, only to be rewritten and repeated. Repetition is life, especially in the pandemic. Creating moments to reflect and recognize what is unique has been critical, what has changed, what has been revealed. My feelings fluctuate by the hour, by the minute some days. I’m both more jaded and emotionally raw at once, tears at the ready at the slightest indication of shared humanity. Rage spiking higher than ever at the news of a police officer killing a Black man who was panicking during a traffic stop, as it was made clear he had every reason to panic.


I nodded to the older Black man as I stepped off the sidewalk to give space as we crossed paths on a neighborhood walk, our eyes above our masks expressions of our shared understanding and respect for each other of all that is unknown. I’ve been half-vaxxed, but have read that fully vaccinated people can still transmit the disease, and I’ve no idea who has immunity from severe reactions or death. The unknown and uncertainty feels like the air we breathe these days, learning how to navigate it with love for each other.


I wipe thyroid meds into the cat’s ear, water the plants and trim dead leaves. Paying close attention to the details brings me into clarity, calms me. I watch the video, a panicked young man killed in his car. Paying close attention to the details rattles me, I feel rage and grief as electricity throughout my body.


I’d started writing this to think about the sensation of wiping clean the chalkboard, watching the words turn back into chalk as they floated away on the breeze, a clean slate. 



But the slate is not clean – it shows the signs of where I attempted to erase what was there. It will be filled with the mundane words of daily life: eggs, cat food, coffee. A reminder that the daily, the mundane (from Latin “mundus” world, of the earth) is what makes up a life. For a young father, the list might have been baby food, diapers, coffee. The mundane was stolen from a son, father, partner, Daunte Wright.


White people – this is on us. Demand your DAs prosecute killer cops. Demand systemic change in our racist justice system. Examine your own inherent biases and racism that is in the air we breathe, having grown up with white skin in this country, this system. The slate is not wiped clean, but it is there for us to write the present and future we want for everyone’s life to be valued. Until Black Lives Matter, no lives matter. 

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