The Zero Mile Post marked the meeting of two railway lines and possibly the beginning of the city of Atlanta.
I am not a writer. I tell stories. Stories tell me. I stand on the sidelines and watch the world spin by. The whole world is a carrousel. Sometimes I wonder why everyone is spinning, and I am not. I wonder about so many things.
I am trying to pick up the pieces.
I wish I had more answers. I don’t. I observe. I question. I document. I try to make sense of it all. That’s why I write. I wish more people wrote down how they felt. But I don’t believe in status updates and angry rants. I wish people wrote down what they saw. I wish people would really look at the world. I wish people would pause and breathe and try to think like someone they don’t know. Someone they think they can’t understand. And then write. The world needs more stories, not of what is, but what could be.
Writing grants me the permission to imagine. I don’t know what’s worse. Watching the world as it is. Or believing we can change it. Writing grants me the permission to create.
People ask me to tell them stories. They want to know what I think about issues big and small.
Tell me a story. Tell me about my tears.
Violence, hatred, racism, genocide. Abortion and death. Guns and gun control. Politics and lies.
I don’t tell stories. Stories tell me. I can tell you what you want to hear, but that doesn’t change anything. I can tell you what I think, but it won’t make any more sense than the truth.
I am a feminist. I am Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion. It is possible to be both. I don’t think babies should be killed. I don’t think we should live in a society that allows women to be raped and men to go unpunished. For too long, women have been the only ones to face retribution. Make abortions illegal and give all the unplanned babies to the men. How would our society change if this became a reality? I should write a story about it. What would happen if we made rape punishable by death? That’s a different story. I should write about that. We should write all the stories about what should be and could’ve been.
I don’t like guns, but I don’t mind hunting. I don’t want babies killed or people killed. I don’t want women killed by angry husbands. I don’t want soldiers killed in wars. I don’t want kids shot in school or on the streets or at home. I don’t want animals shot in the woods. What if guns were illegal, but hunting allowed? Hunting, like procreation, is a strange part of our DNA. Hunting is natural, but we should do it with knives and arrows and blow guns. How many hunters would there be if we were willing to get close to our prey? I know all about the whites of their eyes. Look. Don’t catch your fish with a net, but a spear. Show us the kind of strength you really have. I should write a story about it. We all should.
You tell me politics is filled with liars and cheaters. Liars tell fairy tales. Cheaters win. You tell me love trumps hate, and I think you’ve never been in a relationship gone wrong. The truth is that you only despise lies when someone tells them to you. You only hate cheaters, when you’ve been cheated. You will raise your signs that say “Black Lives Matter,” but you still will not say hello to the Black person on the street or sitting next to you on the soccer field. You forget all the times you have lied and cheated. I should write a story about all of this. I think I have. Now it’s your turn.
I enjoy writing. I want to create worlds were we don’t need coffins. I love happily ever after when the ever means forever. I like the truth I put on the page that becomes a reality in the world spinning by.
I will continue to write. I will continue to dream and imagine. It seemed to work for leaders and musicians and mothers staring at their children in the dark hours before dawn. There are stories everywhere. In the stories are hope and pain. I never know how much until I start writing. There are stories in your heart. Unimaginable stories. I hope you are brave enough to find your own stories. I hope you are brave enough to try to write them.
Nicki Salcedo knows the loops and the back roads of Atlanta. She is a novelist, blogger and working mom. The “Zero Mile” column will be going on a temporary hiatus and will return at a date to be determined.