It’s Christmas morning, and the eery quiet on Nostrand Ave in Bedford-Stuyvesent gives my mind some space to roam. It is never this quiet in Brooklyn, at least not in neighborhoods where you and I can afford to lay our heads down – If we can afford apartments at all. In between jobs, in between girlfriends/boyfriends, in between economic systems and political regimes, we live in the precariat. So I’m writing a love letter to you, Occupy, the only constant in my life for the past year and a half.
You’ve been a tough lover, Occupy.
You always get my hopes up, make me think you’re staying for real this time. You play bait-and-switch. Lure me in with promises of global revolution, then spit me out with pepper spray and stop resisting! and police surveillance and burn out. You don’t give me a break! You don’t pay my rent! You take all my money and spend it on late-night cab rides out of parks and bananas for sandy survivors and toilet paper for vagrant occupiers from Idaho.
I love to hate you. I commiserate in bars late-night in Sunset Park and Bed-Stuy and the Lower East Side, downing shots while cursing you out over loud bachata or heavy-metal. Then I stumble home drunk with excitement about the next scheme.
We’ve shared some beautiful moments, Occupy. We marched together down Broadway many times, our collective voice shaking the windows of the old townhouses of TriBeCa. We discovered worlds of thought together in late-night philosophical pondering sessions in tight-packed living rooms swirling with smoke. I admit I bragged about you to my grandmother, who can’t believe kids are acting it’s the 60’s again.
We didn’t have to meet, Occupy. I could have taken that job in Detroit and I’d be the executive director of a cozy non-profit in a few years. I’d be up to my neck in charity and those infernal words – mutual aid – would have never reached my ears. I could follow that old mantra: get rich, then give some of your money away to those you screwed to get rich! Life would’ve been much easier without your tempting poison, Occupy.
Well, rather than regret it, I guess I should accept that you are I were meant to be together, Occupy. That I had plenty of chances to escape from you, and the fact that I’m not a million miles away right now makes me guilty of just loving you too much. So you win.
While I have your attention though, love, I want to ask you a few favors that I think will help us get along. Please don’t go cheat on me with any politicians! Please stay true to your angry, raw, inclusive, populist roots, no matter how far you spread from Tompkins Square Park and Zuccotti. But if something’s not working in our relationship, let’s change it. Remember, we are writing the rules together on the fly. We don’t have to be obstinate and purist together. We can build some structures that will last past the next disaster. We can be a network and an organization in the best ways that both of those constructs serve us. Most of all, just don’t leave me hanging Occupy.
Because even when I’m old and gray and corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech and kids can go to good schools and stop-and-frisk is a long-lost memory and Wall Street’s been paved over with a farmers market, I’ll still be chanting…
All day, all week, #OccupyWallStreet.