there are no accidents
Since my family's about as unfestive as it gets, I don't normally pay much attention to holidays, and now without even the breaks from work to remind me I'm even more clueless. I didn't even realize today was Christmas Eve until I went out to run errands with a friend and saw the Walmart lot packed fuller than it was on Black Friday. What are people even doing out on Christmas Eve? Getting last-minute gifts and groceries? I feel for them, because the lines were ridiculous everywhere. Walmart in particular was a warzone.
While driving today I noticed not one, not two, but three deer dead on the side of the road, all in almost the exact same position, as if they'd died almost immediately after being run into. It breaks my heart to see such big, majestic animals lifeless like that on the banks of our asphalt rivers of death, especially on what is essentially their own land, and I was reminded of Jessie Singer's book There Are No Accidents. I haven't read it, but from what I've gathered, Singer argues that the things we call "accidents" are in fact not accidents at all, but natural consequences of larger systemic forces shaped by corporations and governments. She (supposedly) goes in depth regarding how "accidents" disproportionately affect people of color and the poor, but you can apply the same logic to the roadkill I see everyday. If we're designing our roads without regard for the well-being of wildlife and not doing anything in spite of all these "accidents", are they really "accidents" anymore?
I spent last night watching Single's Inferno and playing board games at a friend's house with twelve others (some friends and a few of their partners). I'm the newest addition to this big group, after I got gradually invited to their hangouts earlier this year, and while I haven't grown close to any of them (at least in the sort of deep, sincere way I lack), I enjoy accepting their invites to play board games and pickleball. On the surface, they're all nice and welcoming, so much so that I get suspicious sometimes. Surely nobody is this nice without a catch, right? When will I find the skeleton in the closet?
As much as I try not to think about it, when I spend time with them I wonder constantly about how I'm fitting in (and how others there would answer that question). Since I was a kid I've always found myself on the fringes of friend groups; I was never weird enough to be completely excluded from them, nor was I ever beloved enough to be a core member of one, and subsequently I've grown to distrust the deceptive comfort of friend groups. As the newest and youngest member of this group and the only bookish type, it's hard for me to shake the feeling that I'm the Odd One Out. This fear of feeling lonely among others is a big reason I ended up turning down their ski trip invite; sometimes I wonder if they invite me out of obligation, or worse, pity.
My quibbles about fitting in aside, the only other thing that I don't enjoy about going to these game nights is the drive. The host lives in a nearby town I rarely go to, and the route to his house takes me on roads I frequented when I stayed at an Airbnb with my ex-girlfriend the first time she visited. I take a literal trip down memory lane each time I go hang out with them, passing by the Chipotle I bought her first meal in town, the park we walked in the evenings, the Chick-fil-A drive thru we waited in while listening to Taylor Swift1. I was moved to tears the first time I retraced those roads, and seeing those sights and sounds still stings so many journeys later. It's amazing how just a passing glance of an empty strip mall can evoke such strong memories; the drive has turned into a way for me to check in with myself as I slowly move on. Sometimes it hurts lots, other times less so, and the only thing I can do is keep going.
Ya vas a ver cómo van sanando
Poco a poco tus heridas
You'll see how your wounds will heal little by little
Ya vas a ver cómo va
La misma vida a decantar la sal que sobra en el mar
You'll see how life itself will decant the extra salt in the sea
~ Shakira, Dia De Enero