Whatever Happens, Love Will Continue to Be the Center of My Resistance

[Content Note: Malice.]

Something strange has been happening to me lately.

People have been telling me that I have a kind face. Or a warm face. Or a happy face. Or variations on the same theme.

A few people have commented on my selfies that I have a kind face, and a few strangers have said the same. Out of nowhere. Sometimes after doing a visible double-take after we make eye contact and I smile.

Last night, Iain and I were out for dinner, and the young woman who was serving us — a talented, beautiful, friendly Black woman, who had a kind face of her own — looked down at me, mid-meal, and exclaimed, "You have such a happy face! You seem like such a happy person! Are you happy?"

"I try to be," I told her, which is honest.

She smiled. "All right, Happy!" It was my nickname now. I didn't mind at all.

I share this story not to flatter myself (to be honest, I'm not even sure that being told one has a kind or happy face is particularly flattering as opposed to just a random observation), but because it's so unusual.

You see, I spent the first 44 years of my life hearing that my face was unwelcoming. Scowly. Angry. Bitchface. Basically every friend I've made in person has told me they thought I was aloof (at best) or mean (or worse) when they first encountered me. Partly because I'm just very shy, but also, if I'm honest, partly because of my face.

To suddenly be hearing that I have a kind face is a rather shocking deviation from four decades of previous lived experience.

Further yet, it's unaccountable.

My mouth naturally turns down at the edges, and the lines at the corners of my mouth are deepening with age. And I spend most of my waking hours feeling anxious and frustrated about the state of the world. Fear and rage certainly aren't making my face look happier.

So I'm not exactly sure what it is.

I do have a theory, though.

Alongside the stress and anger I feel every day at the relentless deployment of sickening malice, I feel a resonating empathy with the people targeted by that malice; a profound love for the people who take up space beside me in resistance to that malice; and a reverberating joy when I share even the briefest of moments of connection with other people, out in the world, strangers whose eyes meet and acknowledge each other's humanity in our shared survival.

Spending so much time in the darkness makes me love the light so very much.

This has always been true. But maybe I didn't wear it quite so readily on my face. Or maybe there just aren't as many people with kind faces and happy expressions these days.

Maybe a little of both.

What I know for certain is that the less safe I feel, the more I want people to know they can be safe with me. My conscious mind doesn't know how to communicate that to a stranger, but perhaps my subconscious figured out a way to write it across my face.

Two days after the last election, I vowed that love would be the center of my resistance. Whatever happens today, and whatever comes tomorrow, I resolve it once more.

The uglier they get, the harder I love. It is, deep within me, a reflexive resistance to malice. They will have to grind me to dust to extinguish that flame.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus