Since Tuesday morning when the trial started, my week has felt like the moment between feeling the pain of cutting yourself, and looking down to see how bad the bleeding is. Well, now we know. Sort of. Sentencing isn’t until late April.
I haven’t felt this same anxious ache since my immigration experience — the waiting, the wondering, the knowledge that I might not see my family for years. Even after obtaining my Permanent Residency card, I was afraid that my newfound country might for some reason close her doors to me, that I might be forced out, pushed away from everything and everyone I’d come to love here. In customs lines, I could barely breathe. Shopping at an IKEA, I felt anxiety triggers fluttering across my heart. Why are you so afraid? I asked myself. Oh, that’s right. The lines. The numbers. The herding.
I was such a fucking wuss. I was so worried about myself. My fears. My needs. My inconveniences. They seem so little, now. Now Peter is facing a possible jail sentence, and I’d give anything — anything — to keep that from happening. “There’s always the Devil,” Dave told me, this afternoon. “Yeah.” I nodded. “One thing you can say about that motherfucker. He gets the job done.”
I wish I could tell the Devil about Peter. Actually, I wish I could tell his jury: “You don’t get it. It’s bad enough that you don’t understand the concept of jury nullification. But what’s worse is that you don’t know the person you’ve done this to. The person who dropped everything when I fainted at a blood donation clinic. The person who rescues cats. The person who fixed the strap of my dress with a safety pin and his teeth. The person who stands up for me in critiques even when he thinks I’ve fucked up the ending (because I always do), who talked me through the ideas of my novel. The person who gives the best hugs. That guy. My brother.”
And I wish I knew how to feel about my country, too. Somewhere, there’s video of me crying on the day of Obama’s inauguration. Dave shot it. I wish I could grab the person in that footage and shake her. I wish I could slap her in the face and tell her not to let her guard down, not for a minute, not ever. I wish she’d known. I wish everyone knew.