When you strip everything back, every year (bar that one) is just like any other. Everyday encourages us to fixate on ourselves, as well as the people and things within immediate reach. I’m on a fairly new quest to stop trying to escape my humanity, so I won’t feel bad about this. It’s called living in the present. So when I consider the last two years along these lines, I know that on the horizon of everyday was the same wave stealing itself for the crash to shore. For the Guardian, the last two years were spent stealing itself for the moment where all of its present-day-living would for a while cease.
It took two years of historical investigation into John Edward Taylor to confirm that he founded The Manchester Guardian in 1821 with money made from black slave labour in the cotton fields; him and nine out of eleven financial backers. We all found this out close to a week ago. It’s one of those moments where you get to watch the look on all of their faces, even if you cannot see the faces. And you get to watch an audacious discovery oxidise in real time, a special connect-the-dot moment. Slave labour may have little relationship with the Guardian’s 2023 identity, but it is one of those stories that prompt some introspection– over the beginnings of the things and the people of right now, how each day lived in the present finds no room to adjoin them.
My grandma loved writing things down on a crisp, white page, elevated by other unspoiled pages. She liked the way a new notebook pads the script from a nice, round ball-point, or a gel pen– so long as it was not the kind to scratch the paper. Weird, I always considered that a ‘me’ thing that had nothing to do with what came before. It took years to get it– that if she had been different, I would have been. My mum, my sister and I wouldn’t be so methodical about style and occasion dressing if it weren’t for my grandma, who practically breathed for it; yet, she bought into that, as did her generation, who were sold it by their parents, who needed a way to reclaim dignity after the enslaved years. I doubt though, that my grandma thought of any of that when setting out the clothes every night before.
Maybe my grandma would’ve naturally followed that long and winding road had there been the physical evidence to pave it. In the months after she passed, I was sitting right where I am now; my mum was in the room across the way clearing out her mother’s things. And all of that dust was playing in the air between us. I was harassing her about ancestry.com, and she was giving me as much familial information as she could. It was naive of me. But even if the documents were readily available for people like us, they wouldn’t say too much– no accounts for the quirks and the weaknesses that live on in the world today through the living members of my family. That feels like the only way to live beyond the present and the reachable– by opening up what is reachable; by having something, anything there to remind you that you are a subsequence, one chapter. This blogpost will have to do for now.