"Reflecting on Ella Baker" by Katie Myers

you walk in and the Youth are sitting at the front desk with their feet up and they look at you, not coolly, not warmly, not really thinking anything of you at all.  they smile at you because all of a sudden you are a grown up and you have the power; they have to be polite to you in person, though people still see you as a baby too.  Why just yesterday an old man sighed and told you to never grow old; you retorted, there’s not much I can do about that; besides, this is the oldest I’ve ever been!

 

where were you then? Oh you were a good girl, never did much of anything to be honest; I didn’t know where the youngins were then, and you certainly don’t know where they are now. you were at the Tastee Diner most of the time, and if someone had talked to you about an issue then, you’d have smiled politely and then laughed later; it wasn’t till you were in someone’s bed and he told you he’d gone to jail in Reno that you started to think that maybe the world was big and tough and that you needed to understand it.

 

 you were organized in my place and that’s all you can say about that: organized into the swing set and the spare stage in the extra room where everybody went to fuck.  Organized into the roof we’d sit on to play music and the lights strung up behind the tunnel. organized into trying things we weren’t ready for and then hoping for the best.  you really can’t remember.  No one can.  That’s the big trick life plays on you, of course, the trick that makes things that were you once, pieces of you that are still inside you and written on your skin, feel farther and farther away.  Till you’re like one of our wise movement elders, who care about the kids but just can’t help but talk over them all the time and say demeaning things like, “you’re still pretty, it’ll get you far.”.