It’s been a wonderful two weeks of posts for Shattering Stigmas 2020. I’m so thrilled to welcome our last guest poster to close out the event. Rosiee Thor is the author of Tarnished Are the Stars and the forthcoming Fire Becomes Her (out from Scholastic 2022). You can find her online on Twitter and her website.
It was dark for a week in August. It was like someone had just turned off the sky. I barely noticed, because I had been living with a steady stream of anxiety and depression since February. I forgot what healthy feels like. This was just another disaster to add to my things-to-panic about list.
The Oregon fires this summer were the worst they’ve ever been. People I know were displaced from their homes. The log cabin my mom built from scratch thirty years ago burned to the ground. A lot of lives were destroyed. But not mine. Mine stayed resolute and static, not good, but also not bad.
During that week when smoke blocked out the sun, I felt like I was holding my breath, and not just because the air was unbreathable. I was waiting… for things to get worse? For things to get better? I was waiting, and waiting is my least favorite thing in the world.
In publishing, we joke that 90% of the job is waiting. But the stories we write aren’t about waiting at all. In fiction, we write active heroes who don’t wait around for things to change. We write about them being the instrument of change. They are in charge of the propulsion of their own stories.
Sometimes, I wish life was more like fiction. I wish I could wake up to see a bold, red sky and know that somewhere there is a bad man who did it. I could get out of bed, find him, and put an end to all these problems. But the truth is, there is no one bad man. This isn’t the season one finale of Avatar: the Last Airbender and no firebender has killed the moon spirit. There are a lot of bad men who made this happen, and the journey back to a blue sky is long and hard and full of waiting.
And after a week of waiting, we saw a sliver of blue sky through the gray. Slowly but surely, the air quality returned to normal, and the smoke lifted. In the back yard, my garden, which I hadn’t watered in a week, which had gone without sunlight for seven days, was still there, still green. Beneath a layer of ash, I still had red tomatoes and green peppers. Bushels of basil and long stemmed leaks sprang up from the ground. They had been waiting, too.
Maybe it’s okay to wait when waiting is all you can do. Maybe waiting is enough when the thought of trying to do more burns your lungs or curdles your stomach. For a Capricorn like me, waiting feels like the end of the world. But at the end of the world, there are still fresh tomatoes, so I’ll try to enjoy them in the meantime.