Friendship

Knives in the Drawer

July 1, 2022

The forks clank as I drop them into the drawer, still hot from the dishwasher. With each bang, I think back to the email that unexpectedly dropped into my inbox yesterday.

I opened the email and leaned over my granite countertop, my chin resting on my hand. It was from a writer I’ve been reading for years, and I was eager to read her latest story. I began reading, nodding along to her struggles and triumphs in motherhood and life.

Then, there like a bomb in the middle of the essay—a political statement. It seemed innocent enough, and it wasn’t so much a statement but a belief held by one political party. My stomach dropped. She doesn’t like anyone who thinks or believes as I do. 

I shut my computer, leery of any shrapnel in the remaining words. 

Politics and staunch beliefs have always been a part of our lives. But in the last two years, it’s ramped up. People throw around the word nuance—but everything feels black and white behind our screens.

My favorite writers and online friends whose words I’ve looked up to are often laced with politics. And I can’t help but feel like they wouldn’t like me if I shared my beliefs.

The words pop up on social media, essays, and newsletters. Often, it’s not even the point of the post. Instead, it feels like a subtle but not-so-subtle underlying message. 

And for me, the message is, “I don’t like people who think like you.”

I don’t believe this is their intention. They are using their platform to share their voice and opinion. But now, I can’t help but wonder: Am I not her intended audience? For years, I’ve looked forward to certain people’s stories, their words like a balm. I’ve felt understood in ways I never have before and felt like they were someone I could be friends with in real life.

Maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time.

Blinking back the tears, I wanted to yell, “I’m a woman, mom, wife, and sister, too! I love my kids and family. Can’t you see me?” It feels like some people don’t want to see or understand “the other side.” They forget that the “other side” is an actual person. 

An actual person like me. 

I sigh, trying to forget the email. I drop the last fork into the drawer and then bump it with my hip, closing it. The drawer stops, the tines of the fork sticking up. I rearrange the silverware, making room for the fork. 

Is there space for me too?

I know each writer has the right to share their thoughts. But I think back to the last presidential election—half the country voted blue, half red. 

I wonder if these writers have ever thought, “I’m isolating half of my audience.” Maybe they have. But maybe, they haven’t.

I walk to my computer, thinking I should go to her website and hit “unsubscribe.” This could easily be remedied. I invited her words into my inbox—she didn’t knock on my door asking to come in. 

My mind flashes to the countless social media posts from many of my friends I’ve felt this way about in the last two years. How many people would I have to “unfriend” if this is the route I take? 

Half. 

I don’t want to be the person who censors the words that come into my life. I just want to feel a little bit seen, like my thoughts matter too.

Like I’m not hated for my beliefs. 

That night, my toddler reaches into the silverware drawer above her head. She can’t see what she’s looking for, so she digs around haphazardly—the metal clanking with each swipe of her chubby hand. Finally, her fist clenches around a knife. 

“Sharp! That’s a knife; put it back,” I say. She drops the knife, and I hand her a spoon. The utensil she was reaching for. 

Maybe that writer was grabbing for a spoon, planning to gently fold in the words—she wasn’t reaching for a knife, intending to cut her readers. 

The knife in the drawer isn’t bad. But in the wrong hands, it can cut. And cut an unintended object. That doesn’t mean I’m going to toss all our knives. I can acknowledge how the writer unintentionally hurt me, and our differences, and still appreciate the ways I relate to her.

I’ll remind my daughter to be careful, only to use the knife when necessary.

***

I wrote this essay several months ago and I never found a “home” for it to land. But now felt like a fitting time to share it in my own space.

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