by Ana Barros

To the Op-Eds I will read in the morning:

I know there’s very little I can say that will make you understand. There are not enough tears, not enough poems, not enough instruments in the world to speak the language of my stomach on nights like this one.

How do you describe betrayal and disappointment with just your fingertips? We are limited in our communication because we stand worlds apart, but are forced to analyze each other as if we were face to face. But in our writing, we are searching for the same things. You want to understand how my emotions fit into a broader narrative. I want that too. I’m still waiting for someone to open up the space for my emotions to fit into a broader narrative. I’m waiting for there to be room for my tears and my pain without my having to present a pile of notarized receipts, “intellectual” arguments and statistics and to justify them.

You see, the evidence you’re searching for — of coddling or suppression of free speech or radicalization — is too small of a box to fit everything I’m trying to tell you. There is no time to worry about covering all my bases when I’m singing or crying or writing because doing so would take hundreds of years of a history I have already experienced in a mere twenty.

To the comments section of this Op-Ed:

I know you. I know what you want.

You want to find the hypocrisy in my words; the inconsistencies and the hyperboles in my argument. You want to dig up my feelings and deconstruct them until they are yours to tell.

It’s okay. I want you to share my feelings. That’s all I’ve wanted this entire time. Take them. Please. Take my exhaustion and resuscitate it. Sit in Battell Chapel in November and then sit in it again in April and feel the inertia of this world you were told you could change with your mind. Feel your heart reach out of your chest and envelop your friend in a bulletproof vest as she tells her leaders they have failed her. Feel the weight of that failure. Tell yourself you are loved because you are.

Comments Section, we’re one and the same. We’re both trying to understand. When I speak in hyperboles, it’s because there is no vocabulary that encapsulates the size of my feelings. What is the word for being simultaneously too big and too small? What’s the word for being at once confident and crippled by doubt?  I’m collecting phrases as I navigate this, as I’m sure you are.

We’re at two radically different stages of this process, and the cognitive dissonance is as divisive as the subject we’re attempting to deal with. But I’m collecting emotions as well. I’m learning to be angry. Sometimes I struggle to sculpt that anger into a product that is communicable, but isn’t that the point of dialogue? And art?

This is a part of me that I have kept under a very beautiful blanket for many years, untouched and undiscovered. Give me some time to try on my new voice and maybe I will tell you my story.

To the Op-Eds I will read in the morning:

You don’t scare me. I’ve had my practice round. In November I was still trying to find compromise; still trying to own the burden of that sweet spot between honest anger and perfect restraint that you asked of me. But it’s spring now, and I’m not covering myself up anymore.

I’ve told you who I am.

I’ve shown you the kinetic energy that my heart contains. And I’ve demonstrated the immensity of my empathy and my patience. Now it’s time for you to listen.

I’m standing on the shoulders of the bravest women that history has never seen. I just hope you have a pen handy because when we open up our hearts. It’s going to be a masterpiece.