We had a lockdown Tuesday. Our first one since all that's happened with Stoneman Douglas. The announcement came over the speakers, And we went to the corner of the room. The one farthest from doors, Farthest from windows. We sat on the floor, Huddled together. It went as any other one had in the past, We stayed quiet, With the occasional whisper. The sound of my classmates quietly playing out beats and rhythms on the floor. Trying to desperately keep their minds at bay. Pushing away the thought that this could be real. That this could actually be happening. As three minutes turned into five. Five into fifteen. We realized that these news stories that we’ve been tracking, We could turn into one of them. As we begin to wrap our minds of what could be happening, The door opened and we all froze. There were no more smiles, No more drum solos on the floor.
No more of this “boys will be boys” shit. Or “He’s a teenage boy, what do you expect?” Because it's not fair to anyone. Girls are being held responsible, And being told to act mature, Act ladylike, All because they’re not men. Since when does being a lady mean never getting into trouble, Or fights, never being loud. Why do we have to be delicate, When they don't. Boys never get a chance to show their maturity, Never get the benefit of the doubt. No one is expecting them to be mature. Boys are not mean, rambunctious, Uncontrollable, dirty, or loud, By nature. Why should we treat them like they are? Why do we treat them like animals?
Why are women being held accountable for their actions, along with some men’s? When boys can go out, And have their actions excused, All because they’re born a boy? Boys will be boys? No.
February 14th, My brother and I sat in the living room, Neither of us saying a word, As we went from news station To news station. Streaming live from Florida. Trying to gather the whole story. Trying to piece together the numbers, The reasons. Trying to survey the aftermath. My mother came in, And she told us to turn it off. She didn't want to hear about it. She didn't want to acknowledge the fact that this is real. She would walk away, And we would put the news back on, Because we had to know. We had to know what was happening, What damage has been done, And what we could do to stop this from happening again. My mother didn't realize that by walking away, ‘ Changing the channel, Muting the subject, It would make it worse. Because not talking about it, Is just as painful as talking about it. If we don't talk, There will be no change.
My experience in Vermont? My experience is small towns with tight communities. Friendly people with big hearts. Everyone knows everybody, And we all get along. Bright green trees surrounding us, Jagged rocks overhanging the water, Littered with kids from the high school.
Is that what I’m supposed to say? That I love it here? Or that it's perfect? Do you want the answer everyone gives, The lies you can accept and live with? Or do you want the truth? If you heard the truth, Would it change anything? Maybe not, but it's worth a shot.
My experience in Vermont, Is small towns, where people get trapped, After graduation, they abandoned their plans, And stuck to what they knew. They forgot the dreams they had, And stayed with their families instead. Because of that, a lot of people know each other. They know the secrets that can tear a family apart,
This isn’t another breakup poem, Because we never dated. Because it was more than that. It was a friend I could count on. Someone I felt safe with. It was someone I know would care for us, Defend us,
Someone that would fight for us. He fought for us, until it was time to fight his own demons. It was when he needed help, That he backed away. It was when the truth came out, About how everyone felt, That he realized he found someone he couldn’t fight, Or wouldn’t fight, But this was the one that mattered. This is the battle that could have changed things. That could’ve made him happy, And not temporarily.
But he didn’t try, Because he knew the stakes were higher… He knew that if he lost… He’d have to accept the fact that he was trapped, That he got himself addicted, He’d have to admit that he needed help, And that he finally lost.
December 31 came And I thought about my friends. I wanted to be with them, To celebrate the new year. I wish I had. I wish we could’ve been together, For one more great night, Before our relationships started to crumble. Because I love these guys. In my mind, we‘ve made our own island of misfit toys. Maybe calling us misfits is offensive, But we wear it proudly. We each have our history. We have our memories we’d like to forget, Our quirks that make us different, Our jokes that are only funny to us, We have a family. Or had I guess… Like any family, We’re highly dysfunctional. Maybe that’s not any family, but it's the ones we're used to. I think that’s where we get our habits from. Our destructive ones. Because honestly? None of us knows what it's like to have a family that works.
Our generation, is not what they say. We are not rude, stubborn, and disrespectful teenagers. We have finally learned how to stand up for ourselves, and those around us. And to not back down, when faced with a challenge, Or an opponent. Even if that means challenging an adult. Because demanding respect, is not being disrespectful. We are not mouthy, whiny, children, complaining that someone hurt our feelings. We are young adults. Working on changing the disrespect that has been laced into our lives. In the way we talk to each other. See each other. Even the way we think. We are unlearning internalized prejudices.
So if our rooms are dirty, if we’re on our phones, if we hang out, or take part in a rally, Think twice before you judge us on our lives. Because we are the ones trying to right, others wrongs. We are working on making a society, where people are not looked down on.