Statement

Cotton tablecloth made in India, with glass candleholders and faux flora decorations

Desperation is a domineering bedfellow. It wants you clammy and capitulating. Bargaining, wheedling. Desperation says: On your knees! And it says: Ha! You don’t know if you’ll get out of this alive! And you say: Sure, ok, whatever you want. Take all the money, take the car, the appliances, the clothes, the tools on the workbench. Leave the kids though, and the house, because the kids live in the house.

These are desperate times, aren’t they? So much loss. We grieve either our personal or public losses, or both. We weep seeing great figures, who shaped our way of being in the world, choked out in a maelstrom of spit and particles. We despair that we couldn’t save them. The survivors are desperate too. The ones fighting their way back to health. I’m in that category. A covid-19 long-hauler. Nursing injured lungs, heart, and blood vessels throughout the body.

I’m happy of course, and so incredibly lucky. I’m still fucking here, aren’t I? And I still have my job, my family, my home. When the direness of the situation eases some, and desperation slouches back to its dark corner, what then? What’s needed?

What I’m seeing is: more lights in the windows. More fairy lights, holiday lights, electric candles and lit up snowflakes. Huge inflatable animatronic ornaments crowding the shrubbery. We shove the dark away with sparkle and zing and silliness. I’m beginning to better understand late 1940s kitsch. I bought a festive tablecloth for the dining room. It has reindeer and snowflakes and curling red ribbons. It’s straight-up pretty. Merciful heavens I need that tablecloth and all it signifies, and my kids need it too. It’s good medicine in the form of textiles made in India. Please let it have been made with safe labor practices and eco-friendly pigments.

Because this year I surrender to the need for beauty, for comfort, for memory, tradition, reverence. I will get back to deconstructing, critiquing, flirting with ugliness, and fighting the essential fight for environmental and social justice. The fight for diversity, inclusion, and equity. I am never not fighting those fights. But in 2021, for the desperate, the burnt-out, the scared and grieving: bring the familiar, bring beauty, bring love, peace, joy, and fun.

Freedom Baird
– December 2, 2020