[...] It was the 1970s and no charges were pressed, boys being boys. That night, my father beat my brother mercilessly with a washing machine hose in the dank basement of our house. The chaos of a violence like that is astonishing. The cacophonous screaming. The inability of anyone to stop it. The cold pallor that hangs in the air afterward. A chasm emerged between us—me, floating off like some wandering balloon; my brother tethered tightly to a familiar story of trouble and poverty, like most of the kids in our neighborhood.
The literal opposite of missing would probably be present, but in my mind it’s free, the radical opportunity to be present. This brings me back to Walden, which honestly, I despise now, for its naive arguments about what is necessary for life. Thoreau never asks a basic question: What is a livable life? What does a human need to enact one’s not-lostness, one’s freedom? Though Bruce was incarcerated for only two days, it was for a civil offense, not a criminal one. What’s recognized in the moment of random, unexpected jailing is the fragility of one’s freedom.