This image features stock images of a Medusa head by Darién Sanchéz and vintage illustration of a back float from the Trousset encyclopedia (1886 – 1891)

Letters To What We Want is a series of letters composed by friends, responding to the question ‘What do you want? In 2021 and beyond?’. The format was left open, as was the choice to sign off anonymously or with a pseudonym.

In exchange, I sent them an artwork, which can be viewed at the end of the post.

Dear Blank and Indifferent Universe,

Asking myself what I want on a morning like this seems laughable: ironic and absurd.

I’m writing this on the morning of the lockdown announcement, pouring the still steaming dredges of my feelings down the sink. Around me, work is piled up like unwashed dishes. You can keep clearing, but it never ends. It’s only January into our second Covid year but I’m already so tired, from having lived in a brain that constantly shoots off like a palpitating rabbit into future, yet unlived months. Seeking survival; seeking a safe place to take one’s cause and one’s people. Is August a safe place to land? September? Is December safest of all? Give me a place to land. 

Fists knock on doors, asking for decisions, directions, discussions. My demeanor is cold and closed off. I wish I could be warmer, I wish I could be human, but warmth will melt the wax off my face, and I need the cold to hide these cracks in my facade. So I that I don’t accidently blurt out ‘don’t ask me, I’m just as dumb and helpless as you’. The rabbit brain darts off again, running, wheezing. Grass flattens beneath my feet. I can’t even come down, because I don’t know the way back. Back doesn’t exist anymore, there is only forward, into the dark morning. I know when I break something, it won’t be just me to pay the price. 

I ask myself what I want. I want there to be no price. I want us all to survive with as little scars as possible. Some of my friends are frontliners in Sabah. Their voices sound different on the phone now – and I know I will never meet these carefree, mellow people again whom I once knew. Different people will return to us – harder, burning with a steely, bitter cold. Your accolades will feel trite to them and make them angry. They will keep their mouths shut and say nothing, preferring to ‘get back to life’. And I can understand, because I feel the same thing forming on my skin. 

I want us to survive. When all this is over, I would like for time and space enough to mourn. Someday, long years from now, I want to take off this apron and walk away, close all my accounts, and disappear unremembered, into the balm of nothingness. 

Anonymous Frontliner,
Jan 2021

Image of Country Musik: Movements #5, given in exchange for this letter.
An edition of this work is available in the shop.