January 18th, 2007 - Robert Hyers
By 6 o’clock I arrive home and fall into the couch. Our Pomeranian, already waiting on the couch, curls up on my chest; the digging of her tail against my chest slow as she calms, as her head nestles into my neck. We nap. I don’t hate my job, but I don’t love it either. Two years in, my dream of writing daily still hasn’t been realized; I hardly get enough sleep before I have to rush off to my office job, so waking up early to write is not an option. But I’m too drained from an eight hour day of working through piles of paperwork to write when I get home. Lately my hands ache and I’m concerned the little writing I’ve done is on borrowed time. I will work through a small maze of specialists, unaware of just how precious a possession my insurance is, until I’m diagnosed with the beginnings of carpal tunnel and revise my work routine to allow the ache an escape route. When my partner of six years arrives home, I will be woken up and we’ll walk to our favorite sushi restaurant for dinner. I’m proud of the lower middle class life we’ve created through planning and hard work. We are only a few months past a crack in the foundation of our relationship--a latent crack I think I’ve successfully patched up and will surmise later I should have been smart enough to plan for--until three years later when it splits again, this time graduating from fracture to fissure, forcing us apart for good. Fear of the future, of the inability to plan, will exhaust me.
A friend, a wiry yoga teacher, assures me with this advice:
”When you look down the road you can never see past the horizon. And that’s okay.”
Ten years later I realize her advice has worked. I am now an adjunct professor holding onto a one bedroom rent-controlled apartment because I can only budget my life one semester at a time. But unlike my office work, I love what I do. Although by August the anxiety borne from my bank accounts nearing depletion keeps me at the border of exhaustion, over the year I’m able to save up enough to devote most of my summer to writing. But I wonder if that advice will work now.
My apartment sits in the same neighborhood in which I teach, a neighborhood whose business district holds a storefront window with mannequins proudly wearing the latest hijab fashions, a neighborhood which sits north of one of the largest Indian communities in the country, a neighborhood which started as a new beginning for Cuban refugees in the sixties and now houses immigrants from nearly every Spanish speaking country on the planet. It is common--especially in the summer when I wall myself off from family and friends to write--for the only English I hear to come from the dialogue spoken by my invented characters.
In class, my students and I have been discussing President-elect Donald Trump. One student was worried about what this meant for her immigration status as she was being slowly pulled through varying degrees of bureaucracy. Another broke down and cried; her friend, a grade school teacher, had an eight year old boy that morning ask her if this meant he had to go back to his country.
Another spoke slowly as his Spanish speaking brain methodically searched for the correct English words: “White people used to have everything. Now they only have some things. And they think we took it from them.”
Perhaps now I, perhaps all of us, should not be content with the horizon. Perhaps we should succumb to our compulsion for planning no matter how exhausting. Perhaps we need to visualize what might be waiting for us over the horizon: registries, walls, deportations, conversion therapies, camps. Perhaps now we need to stand at the horizon, vigilant, readied with sledgehammers to knock down any new foundations before they can be built.
Robert Hyers’ debut collection, Spinning The Record, stars a cast of queer teens and twentysomethings navigating life and love within the gay club and rave scenes of New York and New Jersey. You can read more of his work at roberthyers.com
Robert urges you to learn more about the Hudson Pride Connections Center, a home and voice for the diverse LGBTQ community and allies that advocate for their physical, mental, social and political well-being. The Hudson Pride Connections Center creates safe and vibrant spaces to gather and celebrate. Visit hudsonpride.org.