Thinking about myself for a minute, an occurrence as rare as the sun rising every day, I thoughtfully stir a cup of coffee in the wee hours of an Irish morning in January 2021. 2020 is behind us. I spent 2020 mostly indoors, like the majority of the people I knew, working from home with a comfortable desk setup for a tech company without a pay cut. I managed a trip to India for a few months to spend time with my family and returned safe and sound. I’ve done fairly well at work, stuck to a somewhat regular workout routine at home and still managed to visit coffee shops and go for walks after the first strict lock-down in Dublin ended in April/May and as and when the rules allowed me to.
My rented apartment in Dún Laoghaire is spacious and warm in the winters with continuously filtered fresh air from quiet vents. The mattress is back-friendly and the boyfriend likes to cook. I did a lot of online shopping to ensure optimum comfort and entertainment indoors. All this, and I almost forgot that I was a Child of Tragedy.
I believe that people who have suddenly and unpredictably lost loved ones, based solely on my personal experience when I lost my father 4 years back, carry a permanent and dramatic sense of foreboding that another tragic event might happen to me at any time and then people will find out and think that I attract sadness, misery and bad luck. Worse, I try to pretend that everything is okay. This might also be the single worst way to think or react to tragedy, hey Shakespeare are you listening? Blaming it on your own luck. Grief can carry shame because we think it makes other people uncomfortable. Because it can be almost hideous, akin to having a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth, permanently. Nobody knows you have a spinach garden in your backyard. You have to eat the spinach everyday because you just have to and there’s a really good chance it’s going to stick between your teeth no matter how careful you are so you’re constantly terrified that people are going to spot it and not tell you or tell you and embarrass you and if you start talking about how the spinach is really important to eat everyday they’ll judge you even more.
I set aside my coffee at this point and instead read through a list of things that I think I need to buy, because that is how society and capitalism function regardless of my perpetual existential crisis or irreverent humour, we earn money to buy stuff and there isn’t anybody who is not a slave to this unnatural world order. The issue is a lack of desire for desire itself, I wonder if other people feel the same way because they’re certainly buying a lot of stuff and seem enthusiastic about it but sometimes they blink or the mask slips and then you’re left wondering if you should cancel your latest online order for an egg boiler (that’s right, an apparatus that takes about the same time to set up and boil eggs as an ordinary container). Regardless, I wish that I wanted a Lamborghini or something. Then I can focus all my energies on buying one instead of lying around thinking about stuff and torturing my brain.
While buying expensive things is a privilege, Privilege feels like a permanent stain that is the exact colour of whatever clothes you decided to wear that day. It completely ignores that you are a Child of Tragedy or that you’ve seen a lot of horrific and violent movies that have made you desensitised and cool. It has no reverence for your donations to charity or your jokes with friends or that one therapy session you had or second hand trauma or hurt feelings or broken dreams or hard work or online courses. Privilege is a notorious, scheming bastard who is truly into appearances and deception. It knows exactly who you are. You can lie to yourself but not to Privilege. And no, it doesn’t have your back, quite the opposite, actually.
I shut down the list and walk toward my work desk and settle down into my ergonomic office chair. It was going to be another long week.