A colleague calls me to talk, the second time in two days, and we are on the line for a long time. Concerns are expressed about the a group of racialized students and white allies whom I supervise.
I’m on the line for another hour tonight, about the same time as last night, listening mostly. Words begin to blur and merge and spread across my face and I feel my eyes close; my ears filter out this language for fear they may infect my heart which beats wildly in my chest now rising and falling faster than one would expect for someone who is stationary. I own my error in judgement, failing to forewarn this colleague, and I apologize. That was my omission.
I hear words like “the tone” and “losing allies” and “damaging mistake”. But then I hear “crossed the line” and I am propelled to write this down. Only these words – on a lime green sticky note which sits at my computer glaring and asserting its presence and persistence for several weeks.
It is late and I fear that I will not sleep with elevated emotions and blood pulsing in my ears, so I fix my usual turmeric milk before bed, a symbolic and hopefully homeopathic ritual meant to address inflammation. But, it doesn’t work. I lie awake feeling the adrenaline still moving for some time afterwards and wake again later mid-sleep, shifting position repeatedly, trying to find comfort despite my partner’s position, always close by and warm.
The next morning, I reach back into the corners of auditory memory trying to retrieve lines of dialogue from the conversation, but I am lost in sense without substance. I wonder if maybe I just blacked out in those moments, maybe the phone line went dead, or maybe I was too consumed in an emotionally defensive posture that I was unable to hear accurately. I try to retrieve some semblance of language.
My husband sits beside me at the kitchen island, our usual breakfast routine on weekdays.
“They are angry that I supported the students and feel they crossed a line.”
He looks up from scrolling Twitter. “Who drew the line?”
I startle at this seemingly simple question and regain my centre feeling a sense of balance suddenly seeing clearly. In that moment the fog of emotion fades and the lines meaningfully merge.