Bull Horn is an avenue to give wings to the stories that matter most. This series, from Red Bull in partnership with the Chicago Reader, invites guest writers, artists, activists, and community members to share their ideas and amplify timely, crucial topics they feel are important now.
I find myself, like many, living in a flashback of 2020 at multiple points of my day. Sometimes small acts trigger the time anomaly. Like waking up in the morning and checking my phone to suddenly realize this exact ritual was the origin of so many breakdowns (mental, societal, existential) and the bearer of so much loss that I would spend days in the fetal position, clutching the black square as empires decayed outside my bedroom window. CLUNK! My 2021 phone falls from my hand to the floor as I seize up for a moment, unable to tell when I am.
Or when walking into my neighborhood Target and reaching for paper towels then BOOM!
My eyes and mind project to me barren shelves, heavily weaponized store guards, and a swarm of anonymous masked faces with eyes of desperation clawing at the entrance door like a scene from World War Z. PUMPF! The 2021 paper towels hit the linoleum floor and I hear the announcement of a lost child by an ambivalent employee over the intercom system and dated Top 40 playlist. I am stuck between time. Twilight Zoned. Or better yet, stuck between the trauma of witnessing global cataclysm on a daily basis and abruptly being shoved back into that chaotic world armed with only a name badge, two cloth masks, and a resume with a blindingly visible gap. Here you go: decipher the equation of capitalism again. Capitalism no matter what.
The larger acts that trigger the time anomaly for me are mostly external and based on decision-making:
Mykele, that person is coming closer and they don’t have a mask visible. How are you going to greet them? How would you have greeted them last year? You wouldn’t have greeted them last year because you were inside your home the entire time, longer than most of the people who you wished you could have greeted. Here they come . . . just back away. Go hide. Where’s your sanitizer?
Or trying to figure out new social etiquette for myself:
Is it all right not to go to these events even though initially I said I would? Mykele, you’re vaccinated. Mykele, that doesn’t matter. Last year I was expected to be at home. Remember? People had patience then. You remember Animal Crossing, your island is probably filled with atheists now. Just go play Animal Crossing again. Go lay in the bed like then. People will understand. They have to. You’re not ready yet.
I write this to say that as I learn to live with this outer time experience (OTE for the scholars), I don’t entirely dread the process of living in both past and present. There is a strange level of responsibility I have over how I interact with the world now, informed by both. There is agency. There is a check-in. There is terror. But ultimately there is motion. Like a UFO that defies our physics, healing is nonlinear. I can only hope that I am not alone out here.
Mykele Deville is a musical artist, lifelong Chicagoan, and new program director at The Hideout. They can be found on Instagram at @whatsrealdeville, all music platforms, and buried under e-mails forever.