48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Posts Tagged ‘visible’

Essay #38: signify

In Love on November 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Step into a world where you matter.

What does it look like? Who populates it? What’s it like to be cared for? cared about?

Imagine: you are heard … acknowledged … visible.

Do you have to fight for space? for food? for approval? for love? religion?

Do you have to gird your loins and strap on a battle-axe just to go to the grocery store?
Do you have to lie or cheat or steal to protect yourself or your family?

Several years ago I worked for a state agency as a communications specialist. One of my assigned projects rubbed me the wrong way: enumerating the benefits of giving to charity. I’m not against charitable giving, mind you. I’m against the State marketing it or guilting you into it.

Despite this, I wrote and edited and printed and webbed. At the end of the project, the manager (who reminded me of a favorite auntie) came to my cubicle and handed me a key chain. Dangling from it was a small silver star, an inch or so in diameter, etched with the words: you make the difference.

Not you make a difference, but you make the difference. You make the difference, you, sitting right here in this forgotten office, in a building outside of time, in the southwest portion of a western state. WE SEE YOU. You make the difference.

I know the key chain was probably made in bulk in Taiwan or China. I know that everyone on the project got one. How far did it have to travel to remind me that I am here. I take up space. I matter.

During an episode of Glee, Kurt’s father looks him straight in the eye and says, “You matter, Kurt. You matter to me.”

When you live in a world where you matter, you speak up when someone treads on you. You voice your opinions, feelings, desires. You ask for help until you get it. You say no when you want to, and yes when it feels right. You take care of yourself. Your matter matters.

Imagine that.

Essay #8: power or protection

In Love on April 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

There is a Norway Spruce in the front yard – 40 or 50 feet tall, evergreen and gorgeous, it shields me from my neighbors’ view. When the setting sun hits it, the trunk turns golden orange.

I look at this tree often: when I’m writing, eating, chopping vegetables. It has protected and shaded me for seven years. Buffered street sounds. Hosted birds and squirrels.

Unfortunately, it’s slated for destruction. Power lines run through the limbs. They could snap in a high wind. The electric company asked the landlord to remove it. He in turn asked me to get bids from arborists.

I call three companies. I am complicit in the death of this tree. An accessory.

I feel powerless. Not my tree, not my land. I have to do what ‘they’ say, even if it hurts me. Child-like thinking: adults are in charge, I have to go along.

Or do I?

Why don’t I take a stand: Hell no, Spruce won’t go!
Ain’t no use, we love the Spruce!
Start a group: The Spruce Boosters.
Call on Zeus: we need some juice!
Where is Butterfly whatever-her-name-is when you need her?

On the other hand, I owe the landlord rent. Do I sacrifice the tree to stay on his good side?
Is a tree just a big weed? Is this big ass Spruce messing up my feng shui? Is this why I’m drowning in debt? Because Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, can’t find my door?

As I am writing this, an arborist calls. He can take the tree out Wednesday morning, if that works for me.

I hate change. Well, that’s not entirely true. I like how my face is changing as I get older. I like that I can be honest with people in ways I couldn’t before. I like that I care less what people think. Change is gonna come, croons George Benson.

Should I call the arborist?
What will happen if I remove the barrier?

If people can see you they can hurt you, yes?

If people can see you they can love you. Yes.