Here and now, for those there and then
(or is it the other way around?)
Hello, Future! My name is Eliza, and I am almost 19 years old. I don’t know if young people are still rounding their ages up where you are, but it’s something we do. I am writing to you on a portable computer in room 1109 in the residence hall at a university in Melbourne, Australia. I had corn and peas cooked in sweet chili sauce for dinner and my sheets reek of fake tan.
But anyway, how are you?! I wonder: Are people still throwing back the same reliable reply to that question in the future? Are you lot like this lot that way? Always good even when you’re not good, even when you’re neither good nor bad, even when you’re nothing?
Struggling. This history writing business is hard yakka. More questions than answers on my end.
In school we read some great history. Tacitus, Aristotle—are those guys still bulking out your curriculum, too? Lots of big, big men, I don’t mind them. Through my final year at school, I had Tacitus pasted around my room to help me along when I wasn’t ‘good, yourself?’
“All major crimes, though hazardous to undertake, are profitable to achieve.”
So 2015 is OK. Some things have moved along, but I don’t know. There’s lots of wriggling room, and I hope we keep on testing it. I hope that to you especially, things today still seem pretty bent.
One example, I suppose, is that this year I figured out that I’m pretty not straight. I got myself an angel and a half of a girlfriend and after a little while decided I’d better tell my mum. And I could. I was very nervous, like, there’s still hate around, there’s still fear, but I could tell my mum. I was very lucky, but still. Nice.
I’m understanding a little more what my teachers were talking about when they were talking about bias. I can’t capture the present for you because I exist in a microsliver of it. I’m white, I’m female, I can afford to study. I don’t want to write the history of me, but is it possible to move away from myself? If I try, do I lie?
History is important though, isn’t it? I read a lot of early feminist history in school and I think it helped me become a more reasonable and more compassionate person myself. Evidentiary history, history written and read carefully, self-consciously—it can do that, can’t it? We look back to see the present more clearly. To know where we come from, maybe that’s to know where we might go.
I don’t know, I’m not doing a top job. But I hope the other seven billion or so wriggling around in this sliver capture the ins and outs of it for you with some accuracy. I hope that you have moved just lightyears into a brighter, greener, softer place.
I hope you’re doing OK out there. We’re counting on ourselves to make sure of it. We’re counting on you, too.
—By Eliza B., 18, Sydney, Australia