these shattered privacies

I dreamed I was visiting my old high school, where in the interests of security they had gotten rid of all doors and walls and replaced them with strong cloth hung vertically from the ceiling, with little more than arrowslits for doorways–you pushed the cloth forward to make the arrowslit wide enough for you to fit, then it fell “shut” again although it was never actually shut. Horizontally, to the cloth, they’d affixed rusty steel girders, as a kind of homage to the walls they used to use back in the day. In some new wings they’d affixed tree trunks sawn in half instead–the trees that had once grown there, before they built the new wing over them. I was wading through this sea of kids who didn’t think anything of their cloth walls–how you could hear everything, see everything. This was normal for them and I was outraged on their behalf. There was some event lurking just before the oldest of them would have matriculated–some new Columbine–that had led to the changes, I knew. But I was still furious for them and was angrily slamming out a blog post titled “these shattered privacies” as I walked. The “walls” kept no sound at bay and some low-level functionary was threatening me with death for typing so loud. Others of my age, people I vaguely remembered, were also visiting incognito like me, and encouraged me to keep typing, to piss the administrator off, to make her pay for the total loss of privacy these kids were experiencing and didn’t even realize was wrong. But I was afraid of the functionary and kept walking, at some point putting in my headphones, whereupon a song came on that, in the dream, was by Hozier and provided biting commentary on the situation (even though I only know the one song by him/them and it wasn’t that one–so it was devastatingly perfect even though that’s all I remember about it).

I was searching for kids who were angry, who found the situation unjust, and there were none. And I ended up leaving feeling ashamed and a bit of an old fogey poser, like I was trying to rabble-rouse “kids these days” who had no interest in my cause and who no longer saw the world the way I did. Who had become immune to what I saw as a violation of something basic. It sounds more constructed, typing it out like this, but at the time I didn’t have the context of knowing that this is how the world works. I was just sad, waiting to cross the street at the light I remembered hating as a teenager because people would yell nasty things at you as they floored it around the corner and away from the school. I was still afraid of them yelling things at me and put on some Brigitte Bardot movie on my phone, to drown out any yelling. Yelling that wasn’t actually going to happen because I wasn’t a target anymore, just some anonymous and vaguely depressing adult.

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