NOVEMBER 9, 2016

When I awoke on November 9, 2016, the world felt different, marked by a radical and permanent shift in the country I once felt comfortable calling home. The sameness of the light, of the way that the sun still rose and shifted across the sky, amplified my discomfort with the changes that had just been made only some hours previous: I couldn't really understand why the world hadn't ended.

Unhinged by emotion and heavy in heart, I took my students to the beach in lieu of holding class that night and we watched the waves as they swelled in rhythm with our breath. The resultant image records the ghostly shadows of desperate humans watching the waves on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Four hundred years previous, this same shore had born ships of individuals fleeing the political climate of their home in search of a better life in a new land.

History, repeating.

In the morning, the air is pricklier than before, with space between people that did not previously exist. Deep in our gut, the cacophony is getting louder: get out of here, get out of here. Shadows are longer than they used to be and we move in a daze until the sun starts dipping lower, cresting the curve of the earth in a bleak gesture of futility.

Hours later, we sit on the beach and cry. The waves refuse to reveal if they are approaching or receding as our shadows shift on top of them. Around us, the air is thick in our throats as we strangle our sobs with effort before allowing them to inflate our lungs again. The sand below us is boulders decimated by years of knocking against the rocks. We knock against each other, too, and I can’t tell if I am alone or not anymore.

Behind us, city lights burn their yellow glow, while in front of us the tumbling roar of the waves grows like a leviathan and mixes with the drone of airplanes above. Our head just keeps spinning faster, getting louder, growing greater until finally the noise swallows everything up and cuts us into darkness. 

Tomorrow, we will get up when the sun rises, baffled by its brightness. Tomorrow, we will cry again. Tomorrow, we will try. Tomorrow.

November 9, 2016, Archival Inkjet Print from 4x5 negative

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