On our first date my partner announced he was headed to Iraqi Kurdistan on an international peacemaking delegation. Though he remembers it differently, I recall the announcement being delivered with an is-that-gonna-be-a-problem-for-you smirk. I was equal parts supportive, thrilled—and annoyed.
Four years later we now live in Barrancabermeja, Colombia where he is a human rights solidarity worker accompanying communities under threat of violence. Likewise, four years later, my response remains: equal parts supportive, thrilled—and annoyed.
Despite the volatile nature of his work, my partner is undoubtedly safer than most Colombians; it’s much more dangerous to be a Colombian in Colombia than a foreigner. Much of the violence in our region is driven by multinational interests and is directed at small farmers, union organizers and local community activists.
All of that being said, I still worry. A lot. I worry about the ways my concern is fueled by media bias and white privilege. I worry about whether our safety plan is sufficient. I worry about whether our phones are tapped. I worry about whether I’m paranoid.
I worry that he will be seriously injured or killed.
The only way around this sort of worry is denial—though I’ve learned that no amount of alcohol, Netflix or peanut butter can cover the underlying angst. The only way through is by walking the long road of acceptance and the even longer road of scared-shitless. Turns out, they’re analogous.
When I ask myself what could be worse than the death of my love, there is only one answer: that I worry away the time we actually have. That I don’t notice his caramel collar bone or how tender and aggressive he is with our kitten or the particular way he bites into the chili he eats with every meal.
It is a victory to notice in the midst of my worry; I have no better antidote.
Against so many odds, we’ve built a home that feels more and more safe. We don’t have much on the walls, the bathroom drain doesn’t drain, and the tiny angry ants get into everything. And still, we’ve painted our walls with a fierce, imperfect kind of love—one that gets agitated in the heat, that keeps the light on, that pours another drink.
It is a victory to live in the home we’ve built with our own hands; it’s name is plenty.
// Safety Plan //
I will walk through the night
until I find you.
I will carry your warm body
home on my right shoulder.
You will not be left for dead.
Brit Hanson is a poet, digital storyteller and curator at BRAVE LOVE.