I used to love watching movies. That’s how this story begins. My husband and I watched several movies each week, rented from the local video store, attended screenings and film festivals. It was our favorite hobby. For years, I had avoided watching films with violence because it bothered me too much, stuck with me too long. Then I discovered the 80s action movie. The plots were outlandish enough, the characters archetypal enough, that I could distance myself enough to enjoy the booming explosions and ridiculous dialogue. One spring we watched every movie Arnold Schwarzenegger had starred in. Now, every movie is the apocalypse. I can’t watch. Even the Predator believes we’re doomed.
Or, this story begins with me on the couch, holding my sleeping newborn. I explain that she’s perfect, because she truly is. I write that out of a thousand babies at the Baby Store, I would have picked her. I examine how intense and immediate the change in my life has been, linking my story with the stories of so many mothers, parents, ancestors. And I confess that now that I have the family of my dreams, I think of nothing but it all being taken from me by flood, fire, or famine.
Except that this story begins with the night, which I have dreaded since childhood. My evening worrying would lead to insomnia. I couldn’t fall asleep, or worse, I would sleep a little and wake from a night terror. Stormy nights were preferable, providing a viable excuse to bring my mother to my room for comfort. What I wanted was to tell her what I dreamed. When I aged out of that, I turned to books, sometimes reading an entire horse-themed novel before the faint morning light provided an illusion of safety. Then I could sleep. And now, in the middle of every night, holding my nursing baby in my arms, I play a game of marking how many minutes pass between my waking and my first thought of climate change. So far, the longest has been nine minutes.
No matter how this story begins, it ends the same way: My greatest wish is for everyone to live; my smallest wish is to live long enough for my daughter to tell me what she dreams.
Kate Lorenz is a writer and editor living in Kansas. She is a co-organizer of the Lawrence hub of the Sunrise Movement. To connect for climate action, visit: www.facebook.com/sunrisemvmtlawrence
I'm a writer & teacher in Lawrence, Kansas who actually believes the scientists. I wrote a book of poems called Of Some Sky that seems to have something to do with all this.