a good day to be on wheelie feet

Sunday was a lot…


Big shouts out to Arwen, Trevor, and Kennedy for becoming new patrons this week, and thanks to Benji for a pledge increase this week. Thank you friends, love you lots. 

My name is Callie Wright, and this is Queersplaining…

Sunday morning. I went for a walk. A friend asked if I wanted to join them. To be honest, I kinda didn’t want to. Not because I didn’t want to spend time with my friend or because I didn’t want to go for a walk. Truth is, election anxiety was destroying me. I fell behind on work. Slept too much, drank too much. 

Getting up in the morning, driving out to a trail and walking a few miles, it just felt like a lot. Too much. But I told my friend I’d go anyways. I know myself well enough to know I’d be glad I did. I’d step outside and breathe in the fresh air. I’d see my friend and hear her voice. I’d get my body moving. A short time into the walk, I’d be 100% glad I did it. I’d almost certainly feel silly for having not wanted to go too. Its a process I go through. 

I’m still trying to figure out the balance between respecting those feelings and deciding to push myself in ways that will ultimately be healthy for me. I’ve never regretted going out and moving with some friends, so pushing myself on this one was a safe bet. 

I finished my coffee as I pulled up to friendship park. Its a park with a trail that runs along the Ohio river. Widget wasn’t far behind. Widget is the friend I was meeting. She’s one of my derby teammates and one of my best friends. She brought me more coffee because she loves me and because she’s a good friend. Pumpkin cream cold brew. And it was the perfect temperature outside. Mid 60’s, light breeze, not a cloud in the sky. And not too many people around either. Of course we were outside and staying a safe distance. But being around lots of people still makes me super nervous. 

We started walking down the trail and trading election anxieties. I really thought we’d get an election call on Saturday. But we didn’t. So I drank bunch and fell asleep. Widget is a data nerd. She knows all the things about all the numbers about everything. So we was giving me her analysis and what she thought was going to happen. 

We passed by this famous Cincinnati ribs place called Montgomery Inn. Widget says “oh the outdoor skating rink is on the other side.” I knew that place existed, I hadn’t thought about it being that close to where we were. I told her I’d never been before. She said we could check it out if I wanted to. And I totally did.

It was rad. Smooth concrete surface, plenty of room to skate around. I kinda wished we were there to skate instead of walk. We stood there and talked for a bit. I noticed someone across the way. She waved like she knew us. We waved back. From a distance she kinda looked like one of my teammates. It wasn’t her though. New friend! 

We introduced ourselves and started to chat about skating. Her friend showed up and we did introductions all around. And Widget and I kinda looked at each other and were like “uhh we might could change our plans yeah?” We have our skates in our cars. We could maybe just skate with some new friends?

And so we did. It was wonderful.

We geared up, did some stretching, and did the thing. It was a good day to be on wheelie feet. When I’m skating, it’s hard for me to be anxious. The sound of the bearings spinning, the feel of the breeze across my face. It was just so peaceful. I hadn’t felt peaceful in a long time.

And bonus, I’ve been doing a good job with my physical therapy exercises for me knee. So my knee wasn’t angry at me. If only they’d call the fucking election. I might be able to like fully breathe out for a day.

I’d just finished doing some exercises. I’d start skating in one direction, stop hard, turn around and go the other direction. I was mad at how tired my legs were. I’m so out of shape compared to where I was before. I know I know, quarantine, no derby, give yourself some grace. But I was so good at that before. 

Once my legs started really screaming at me, I chilled out and just took some leisurely laps around the rink. And then I hear Widget yell. And yell again.

Oh shit did they call it? THEY CALLED PENNSYLVANIA. I wasn’t sure how I’d react if and when the call was made. I wanna celebrate, because Trump losing is great. But I don’t want to celebrate too much, because Biden also sucks. I didn’t really know how I’d feel.

But its been important to me that I not police my feelings too hard lately. I’d just feel them and navigate them as they came. And in that moment, I just felt some tension release. I wasn’t exuberant. I was just…relieved. The sky seemed a little more blue, the breeze felt a little better rushing past my face. I was able to have a little more fun doing fun things on my wheelie feet. 

We finished out the day making two new friends, getting a good workout, and getting the news that we seemed to have staved off a full on descent into fascism in the US. Given the state of my mental health in the previous months, I was cool just letting myself feel good that day. 

I felt like I maybe wanted to celebrate? But like, its covid times. Also, I was just tired. So tired. A few of my group chats started talking about an outside socially distanced celebration at a park nearby. Part of me really wanted to go. But again, I was just so tired. Physically tired from skating, but emotionally tired from just….everything.

I thought nah, I’m going to celebrate by having a quiet dinner at home with my wife. I’m gonna make some fucking fettuccine Alfredo. That’s what I’m gonna do.

I kept thinking back to 4 years ago. Where was I and what was I doing? I was working 2nd shift at the call center. I was working the lead desk and we had the TVs turned to MSNBC. I remember watching each state get called, and I remember the mood turning more and more sour as the night went on. I thought about what it was going to mean for me, for the people I care about, and for the world. And I cried. 

I posted a status on Facebook inviting anyone who needed company to just come chill and stay the night at my house if they didn’t want to be alone. 2 friends took us up on it. I was super worried about depression and despair getting to people when they were alone. I was scared of the worst that could happen. I figured if we could provide a little company maybe we could prevent the worst from happening. 

We sat in the living room, crying, making plans, talking about what we were going to do, how we were going to protect ourselves and each other. And I remember taking my friend Zach home and crying with him. No words, just tears. I’ll have that burned into my memory forever.

I also remember that before the election, I’d recorded a good news episode of the show. We laughed and joked, thinking Hillary was going to win. And I was like well how the fuck do I put that out now? But I had the same thought I had two weeks ago. We gotta figure out how to cope right? And for at least some of us, laughter and fellowship are how we cope. So I recorded a little monologue to go in front of the episode and then just ran it as recorded. 

I would’ve loved to invite some friends over Sunday night to cook them dinner and hug them and celebrate the fact that we at least headed off the worst. We had at least a little weight lifted off our shoulders that day. But of course its covid times so that wasn’t really an option. I’m not sure I really had the energy to entertain company anyways, even if it was safe to do so. 

I relished the idea of just a quiet house, good food, and quality time with my wife, free from at least a bit of the big black cloud we’d had hanging over us. 

And it was nice. It wasn’t quite as quiet as I’d hoped. Wedge likes to express his dismay at not getting to eat our dinner food. So there was the occasional borking fit. But mostly it was everything I’d hoped.

Anxiety brain doesn’t let me feel peaceful very often. Even in the good times, I still just have lots of things happening in my mind. But I felt peaceful that night. And that’s a feeling that’s precious and important to hold onto.

Of course the fight isn’t over. Biden is no friend of the actual left, he’s made that pretty clear. But I think its okay to take a moment and be happy he’s the guy we’re fighting the next four years instead of Trump. Its really important that we hold them accountable. We have to pay attention to what they do, not just what they say. We have to recognize that we are not on the threshold of a progressive utopia. We’re not looking at the imminent end of police brutality, we’re not about to see universal unquestioned queer and trans rights. None of those fights are over. But so long as we choose to keep fighting those fights, I think they got maybe a little easier to fight for the next four years. 

Complacency is death. We can’t become complacent. But hope and joy are the lifeblood of movements for justice. And I think its important for us to find hope and joy where we can. I’m allowing myself to feel a little bit of that. I’m still worried. I’m still anxious. But I’m seeing a glimmer of hope. Let’s not stop. Let’s pick up right now today. Let’s give to mutual aid groups. Let’s run for local office, let’s volunteer. Let’s be energized to fight for the world we all deserve. 

Thanks for listening friend, if you want to help keep this thing going please consider heading to patreon.com and making a per episode donation to support the show. If that’s not possible, a share or a shout out on social media is a big help too. 

Also, I’m interested in queer and trans holiday stories for an upcoming episode. I’m interested in the unique ways queer and trans folks celebrate, or don’t, the various holidays that happen around this time of year. If you’ve got a story, hit me up at [email protected] and tell me about it.

Before I go, I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting, you’re scared, if you feel like no one cares and no one understands, you need to know there’s a community out here that loves you, cares for you, knows that you’re capable of amazing things and that you are worthy of love. If you’re struggling, please don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time friend, my name is Callie Wright, and this is Queersplaining