America is just an experiment in endurance that doesn’t hand out trophies

I don’t want to be the kind of millennial who expects a prize for nothing.
I never got trophies because I never played sports.
I was gayer in childhood. I’m used to not being rewarded.

I expect that most people want to take the most they can before they check out.
I expect they don’t really care about the things they pretend to value.
I expect that a nation rots when its people are rotten.

My mother had a van but she wasn’t a soccer mom. She pressed the button for the back sliding
door to open and clinically depressed children without cleats tumbled out.
We didn’t compel her to take us to practices and lessons. We didn’t compete to outdo each other in accomplishments. She doesn’t have any trophies to display.

We’re the one white family we know that never voted Republican.
We don’t have nostalgia. We didn’t have better days. We don’t feel dispossessed from power.
We don’t blame anyone for the end of good days we don’t remember having.

I read once that the central narrative of conservatives is the line.
Standing in a line and imagining that people keep cutting, you grow to hate them.
I imagine that America is a line that you stand in and no one knows what the line is for but you really care about it.

When you get to the front, you discover that the line is just an experiment in endurance.
The experiment is underwritten by Rupert Murdoch.
America is really just a duration of time in which you try to self-medicate and pretend things are getting better while you’re standing in line.

I note the habits of mind for being in America.
The habits of mind are queuing up, biting your tongue until it’s striped with purple lines, amnesia, mourning, ammunition, “Nothing will ever change” and “Look at me.”
They come from children who were slapped for whispering and children who were rewarded for everything.

I was both slapped and rewarded.
I had a balanced childhood.
I learned to bite my tongue until it became striated with deep purple teeth marks.

I don’t like standing in lines. I have a striped tongue. I expect the worst.
I have no nostalgia and no better days.
I am participating in a national experiment in endurance.
Where’s my trophy?



Chris Records is a grantwriter and community organizer living in Los Angeles. He works in international education. His work has been published in Entropy Mag, Punch Drunk Press, Rabid Oak, and Salon.


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