I’m forever a street kid. I wear out shoes and backpacks faster than I should, spend as much time as I can outdoors. This weekend’s heat invited sociability and irritability. I overheard multiple fights and frenzied invitations. Friends cheerfully calling to each other on opposite curbs, trying to get the other to cross.
People were more talkative. This meant more exchanges with strangers than usual. A security guard asked me not to take photos of a theater. I said okay. He joked: “I’m just askin ya, don’t fight me now, don’t hurt me.” His eyes were serious. He was calculating something. I hurried away. As it got hotter, strangers (mostly men) described my appearance: height, color of clothes, expression. It reminded me of playwrights setting place. Am I, are women a “scene,” and how can make sure this is a productive reflection? I sat in the park and thought about it. A woman walked by and described my burrito, assumed my diet.
I’m regularly led by my looking, and know there are endless ways to survey. Sometimes speculation follows. What is the venture attached to our looking? What do we expect it to produce? Before writing this, I revisited the images I made in the last 100 days. I tried to locate changes in my vision and in my eyes. I checked to see if my face was marked.
Some say: “The first 100 days / 100 days since,” mixing apprehension about this administration and longing for the former. Some hearts call inward and from opposite curbs.
When one supposes apocalypse, there’s a collapse of time. “It” has not happened but is always in the process of happening. Each headline seems to draw us closer to a landscape that’s actually and cinematically familiar. We know its color palette. We dread our future dread. I don’t see the comfort or use in this activity but understand its inevitability. Speculation requires concrete means and hope.
In dystopian thought exercises, one approach is to imagine a place where nothing else can happen, a place beyond faith. Does this prepare us for loss? Is there emotional risk in these speculations? Do risk and capital swirl, making the terms of investment murky? This seems the ideal landscape for confusion and irreverence. After all, how can we make faith the capital, eroding hope—the thing that buoys capital and makes a venture alluring?
I look and look, squinting at others, peering inwards but draw no conclusions. A conclusion and “The End” have never felt so disparate.
Ladan Osman is the author of The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony. Her writing and photographs have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Rumpus, Transition, and Washington Square Review. Osman is a contributing culture editor for The Blueshift Journal. She lives in Brooklyn.